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Thanks to Everyone Who Stopped by our Stream! (Israeli Mech Inf v. PLO + Technicals – 1982)

Thanks to Everyone Who Stopped by our Stream! (Israeli Mech Inf v. PLO + Technicals – 1982)

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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

Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

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Thanks to everyone who stopped by! That was a great stream! I was only going to stream for an hour or so, turned into 3:45:00! I will be “off the radar” next week due to EOQ at work, but i really hope to be back starting on April 6 for some live games, either Valor & Victory Lebanon, Vietnam, Panzer Leader WW2, Panzer Leader Lebanon, Panzer Leader Gulf War 1991, or of course Darkstar!

Twitch Stream Sunday 3.24.2019

 

As you can see, certain spots of this game got hairy in a big hurry!  This doesn't even count the two F-16 strikes (okay, they mostly missed) but the two AH-1 Cobra strikes were dead on the money, not to mention that pickle-barrel mortar round that saved not only the crew of the lead M113 killed in the open (by opening Palestinian RPG round), but also the infantry team that tried to save those casualties (and became casualties themselves!)As you can see, certain spots of this game got hairy in a big hurry! This doesn't even count the two F-16 strikes (okay, they mostly missed) but the two AH-1 Cobra strikes were dead on the money, not to mention that pickle-barrel mortar round that saved not only the crew of the lead M113 killed in the open (by opening Palestinian RPG round), but also the infantry team that tried to save those casualties (and became casualties themselves!)

Sitrep Live Stream: 7PM GMT

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Just a quick “hello” to say I’ll be live streaming today at 7PM GMT, hopefully playtesting new vehicles in Valor & Victory: expanded to 1982 Lebanon.  We have Israeli M113 Zeldas (troops transports and gun IFVs) along with Palestinian technicals (with DShK 12.7mm HMG and ZU-23-2 twin autocannon).

Hope to see some of you there, to see how these new units work!

Sitrep Twitch Channel

Sitrep Live Stream: 7PM GMT

Air Phase Demo - 1982 "The Arab Israeli Wars"

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Segments from our March 17 Twitch live stream, where we took a first swipe at playtesting home-expansion rules, units, and weapons for 1982 “Peace for Galilee”

In this video – AIR STRIKES! Syrian interceptors! SAMs! Ground fire!

1982 Lebanon Air Phase Demo

Air Phase Demo - 1982

Twitch Stream Excerpts posted on YouTube!

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Good afternoon, folks!

We had a great Sitrep Modern Military Gaming live-stream on Sunday, March 17.  In this stream, we took a first swipe at playtesting the new 1982-era units, rules, weapons classes, and scenario conditions for Avalon Hill’s The Arab-Isreali Wars – which I’ve been working to expand beyond the published 1973 Yom Kippur War scenarios and into 1982 “Peace for Galilee” (Israeli Invasion of Lebanon).

Excerpts of this stream are now being posted on YouTube.  😀

Do you have what it takes to wear colonel’s eagles?  That first star for a brigadier-general?  This are the kinds of games that let you really “take a seat at that table” – and command whole battalions, regiments, or brigades in full-sized tactical combat.

March 17 Twitch Stream Excerpts – Lebanon 1982

New WEC (Weapons Effectiveness Chart) for 1935-2015 Panzer Leader / AIW Games

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Here’s a new WEC I’m putting together that combines / refines / reconciles data used in Panzer Leader, Panzer Blitz, The Arab-Israeli Wars, my 2014-15 “Putin’s War” update for Panzer Leader, and Tosach Miniatures “Tactical Combat Middle East” for 1991-2003 Wars against Iraq.  I’m hoping to use it in the first try of a The Arab Israeli Wars playtest for Lebanon 1982.

I’m hoping to live-stream some of the playtest for this new Lebanon expansion for The Arab-Israeli Wars starting at around 3:00 ETZ / 7:00 GMT tonight (Sunday March 17).  Hope to see some of you there!  😀

Sitrep on Twitch

New WEC (Weapons Effectiveness Chart) for 1935-2015 Panzer Leader / AIW Games

New Units Designed: 1982 Lebanon in "The Arab Israeli Wars"

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Been working today on 1982-era counters for a new Lebanon expansion of The Arab-Israeli Wars.  Data’s been compiled from NE Atlanta Gaming Group (these guys do some very serious modern 1970s-80s Panzer Leader mods), Tosach Miniatures Tactical Combat Middle East (Panzer Leader for 1991-2003 Gulf Wars), and Shrapnel Games’ Steel Panthers: Main Battle Tank.

Still tweaking these of course, and there are a few more units I want to put together for 1982 “Peace for Galilee” Lebanon.

New Units Designed: 1982 Lebanon in

Valor & Victory 1982 Lebanon (IDF v. PLO) P2

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Good afternoon, everyone ~

Okay, time to finish the game that Elessar2590 and I had a great stream Sunday (Monday morning for him) – recorded at http://www.twitch.tv/sitreppodcast/videos– where we play-tested my new 1982 IDF and PLO forces and first Lebanon board for Valor & Victory.  He took the PLO (on defense) and I took the IDF.

This is squad based game – each piece on the map is either a single officer, squad, fire team (half squad), or support weapon.

Each hex is about 30 yards / meters across.

The game takes place during Israel’s “Peace for Galilee” invasion of Lebanon, June 1982.

The first two turns of the game are reported previously, here is the finish.

So as we hinted before, Elessar was coming at my southern platoon with a very powerful assault.  He’s really learning this game fast, consolidating his squads in his command phase, using assault move (for enhanced cover bonus against my opportunity fire) and using available terrain to provide the best covered approach.  Still, that’s a pretty powerful reinforced squad in the hex, under personal command of my IDF company commander (Captain Masalha).  I’m also able to use grenades at the point-blank opportunity fire, and again to repel to assault.  PLO leader Zaid takes hideous losses in that date orchard, both against my opp fire and in the assault himself (he gets to throw in grenades as well, but only for the troops that survived the opp fire).  The odds aren’t great, he has to roll a 5 or less on 2d6 … AND HE ROLLS A FOUR!  The PLO assault succeeds!  I think that’s pretty much the end of the game there, and here’s why.  Remember that I only get 1 VP per casualty point, he gets 3.  Actually he gets 6 if he “captures” them.  Well, five more casualty markers were just created in that hex, and since he successfully assaulted, that means he gets the hex in which the casualty markers are placed … i.e., he just captured five IDF casualty markers, for 30 VP right there.  HOWEVER, by the time Zaid pays for the required casualties he incurred himself, not only are all huis men dead, but he’s pinned down himself.  Since he’s pinned, he can’t “capture” the casualty markers.  He can rally in the after action phase, I’m praying he doesn’t get the required 6 or less on 2d6.  If he makes it, he’s no longer pinned, and those casualties are gone.  Thank GOD he fails the roll.   All said, however, he’s wiped out my company command team, a full squad, and even a medic team. Good job! So as we hinted before, Elessar was coming at my southern platoon with a very powerful assault. He’s really learning this game fast, consolidating his squads in his command phase, using assault move (for enhanced cover bonus against my opportunity fire) and using available terrain to provide the best covered approach. Still, that’s a pretty powerful reinforced squad in the hex, under personal command of my IDF company commander (Captain Masalha). I’m also able to use grenades at the point-blank opportunity fire, and again to repel to assault. PLO leader Zaid takes hideous losses in that date orchard, both against my opp fire and in the assault himself (he gets to throw in grenades as well, but only for the troops that survived the opp fire). The odds aren’t great, he has to roll a 5 or less on 2d6 … AND HE ROLLS A FOUR! The PLO assault succeeds! I think that’s pretty much the end of the game there, and here’s why. Remember that I only get 1 VP per casualty point, he gets 3. Actually he gets 6 if he “captures” them. Well, five more casualty markers were just created in that hex, and since he successfully assaulted, that means he gets the hex in which the casualty markers are placed … i.e., he just captured five IDF casualty markers, for 30 VP right there. HOWEVER, by the time Zaid pays for the required casualties he incurred himself, not only are all huis men dead, but he’s pinned down himself. Since he’s pinned, he can’t “capture” the casualty markers. He can rally in the after action phase, I’m praying he doesn’t get the required 6 or less on 2d6. If he makes it, he’s no longer pinned, and those casualties are gone. Thank GOD he fails the roll. All said, however, he’s wiped out my company command team, a full squad, and even a medic team. Good job!
At the beginning of Turn 3, Lt. Armichai’s platoon immediately takes PLO cell leader Zaid prisoner, then pours down firepower on PLO leader Muzayin’s position in the north (the one who’s earned “valorous” on Turn 1).  In the after action phase, Armichai and his men start furiously evacuating casualties (medics can evacuate one casualty marker per turn automatically, other units have to make a pretty tough roll, assisted by Armichai’s leadership bonus).  Suffice it to say Armichai’s platoon isn’t going anywhere any time soon (busy processing prisoners, CASEVACing wounded, and pouring down cover fire for Lt. Gandelev’s platoon up north).  Elessar2590 sees this and decides to go for another lucky assault on his Turn 3.  I get opp fire, but I have no grenades left with which to repel the assault.  Luckily for me, this assault is weaker, and Armichai’s platoon actually has more support weapons (point blank Negev and RPG fire). This time the assault is repelled, and I actually wind up with some more prisoners.  At the beginning of Turn 3, Lt. Armichai’s platoon immediately takes PLO cell leader Zaid prisoner, then pours down firepower on PLO leader Muzayin’s position in the north (the one who’s earned “valorous” on Turn 1). In the after action phase, Armichai and his men start furiously evacuating casualties (medics can evacuate one casualty marker per turn automatically, other units have to make a pretty tough roll, assisted by Armichai’s leadership bonus). Suffice it to say Armichai’s platoon isn’t going anywhere any time soon (busy processing prisoners, CASEVACing wounded, and pouring down cover fire for Lt. Gandelev’s platoon up north). Elessar2590 sees this and decides to go for another lucky assault on his Turn 3. I get opp fire, but I have no grenades left with which to repel the assault. Luckily for me, this assault is weaker, and Armichai’s platoon actually has more support weapons (point blank Negev and RPG fire). This time the assault is repelled, and I actually wind up with some more prisoners.
FINALLY my luck takes a hard, hard turn for the better when, on Palestinian Turn 3, Elessar rolls BOX CARS for Muzayin’s fire roll against Gandelev’s embattled position.  This is the worst roll in the game, not only does Muzayin and his men decidedly miss, but an Israeli sniper appears out of nowhere and makes an immediate sniper attack.  I can place him anywhere within 6 hexes and LOS of the “offending” units that rolled the box cars, and I put this ninja-sniper RIGHT BEHIND Muzayin, and then roll a 6 on my sniper attack (best possible roll).  That’s four casualty points in addition to everything he’s suffered already in a crossfire between Armichai and Gandelev.  Boom, that PLO position is wasted, and all in Elsessar’s FIRE PHASE.  Now comes his movement phase, and he elects to try  and flush the sniper.  After their activation, snipers only get opportunity fire attacks in enemy movement phase, so one fireteam (4-6-2) is gunned down as “bait,” a full squad (8-6-4) then rushes in (my sniper only gets one opp fire attack a turn) and my sniper is automatically eliminated.  But damn, that more or less shattered the whole PLO northern wing and took a nice gash out of the center as well!FINALLY my luck takes a hard, hard turn for the better when, on Palestinian Turn 3, Elessar rolls BOX CARS for Muzayin’s fire roll against Gandelev’s embattled position. This is the worst roll in the game, not only does Muzayin and his men decidedly miss, but an Israeli sniper appears out of nowhere and makes an immediate sniper attack. I can place him anywhere within 6 hexes and LOS of the “offending” units that rolled the box cars, and I put this ninja-sniper RIGHT BEHIND Muzayin, and then roll a 6 on my sniper attack (best possible roll). That’s four casualty points in addition to everything he’s suffered already in a crossfire between Armichai and Gandelev. Boom, that PLO position is wasted, and all in Elsessar’s FIRE PHASE. Now comes his movement phase, and he elects to try and flush the sniper. After their activation, snipers only get opportunity fire attacks in enemy movement phase, so one fireteam (4-6-2) is gunned down as “bait,” a full squad (8-6-4) then rushes in (my sniper only gets one opp fire attack a turn) and my sniper is automatically eliminated. But damn, that more or less shattered the whole PLO northern wing and took a nice gash out of the center as well!
In fact, by the beginning of Turn 4, there’s really no one left on the PLO side.  One full squad occupies those northern trees.  The question now is, can I manage my assets and remaining time well enough, in the face of that last squad’s opportunity fire, to CASEVAC all my wounded and get all my prisoners back to battalion HQ for interrogation – all while taking at least three objective hexes?  It’s a tall order, but on Turn 4 I get to work.  A big part is for Gandelev to leave one fire team on the northwestern objective hex, then hustle south with the rest of his platoon (plus his medic team) to where I’ve taken such a pounding in that date orchard.In fact, by the beginning of Turn 4, there’s really no one left on the PLO side. One full squad occupies those northern trees. The question now is, can I manage my assets and remaining time well enough, in the face of that last squad’s opportunity fire, to CASEVAC all my wounded and get all my prisoners back to battalion HQ for interrogation – all while taking at least three objective hexes? It’s a tall order, but on Turn 4 I get to work. A big part is for Gandelev to leave one fire team on the northwestern objective hex, then hustle south with the rest of his platoon (plus his medic team) to where I’ve taken such a pounding in that date orchard.
Turn 5 – while Gandelev arrives from the northwest, Armichai leads two elements east and northeast to grab two more objective hexes.  I take fire from the last PLO squad, but with no leaders to direct their fire, plus the fire hindrance of that stone wall, plus their own sandbags as cover, Armichai and his men are not hit.  Another fireteam heads to the building where the DShK was hit by earlier Israeli mortar fire, while Gandelev’s men and medics CASEVAV more wounded and prisoners.Turn 5 – while Gandelev arrives from the northwest, Armichai leads two elements east and northeast to grab two more objective hexes. I take fire from the last PLO squad, but with no leaders to direct their fire, plus the fire hindrance of that stone wall, plus their own sandbags as cover, Armichai and his men are not hit. Another fireteam heads to the building where the DShK was hit by earlier Israeli mortar fire, while Gandelev’s men and medics CASEVAV more wounded and prisoners.
Ending state on Turn 6.  BARELY I’ve managed to grab a third objective hex (DShK hex in the large building – lower right).  All prisoners and wounded evac’ed in the nick of time.  So I’ve succeeded in the mission, but again, barely … and did I take too many losses for this mission to be considered a loss? Ending state on Turn 6. BARELY I’ve managed to grab a third objective hex (DShK hex in the large building – lower right). All prisoners and wounded evac’ed in the nick of time. So I’ve succeeded in the mission, but again, barely … and did I take too many losses for this mission to be considered a loss?
Almost.  In all I took eight casualty counters, which were all safely evacuated, x3 = 24 points.  In all, 27 men have been hit to one degree or another, we’re assuming 7 KIA and 20 WIA to one degree or another.  Meanwhile, I’ve taken out 17 PLO fireteams and all four leaders (including 2 fire teams and 2 leaders captured).  For “kills” I get 1 VP (17 in all), for “captures” I get 3 VP (12 in all) for a total score of 29.  So by just five points, I technically “win” this game.  Almost. In all I took eight casualty counters, which were all safely evacuated, x3 = 24 points. In all, 27 men have been hit to one degree or another, we’re assuming 7 KIA and 20 WIA to one degree or another. Meanwhile, I’ve taken out 17 PLO fireteams and all four leaders (including 2 fire teams and 2 leaders captured). For “kills” I get 1 VP (17 in all), for “captures” I get 3 VP (12 in all) for a total score of 29. So by just five points, I technically “win” this game.

So this was a great game, thanks again to Elessar2590 and to everyone who watched us on Twitch.  Technically I won with the IDF, but really this is because a ridiculous turn of fortune on Turn 3 saved my ass.  Literally we had double 6s by Elessar, the worst roll for him, followed by two more 6s for me on sniper attacks, best possible rolls for me.  That’s actually 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 = 1,296:1 odds in my favor on Turn 3 … and even with this, I barely belly-crawled out of that one with a “win.”

Hey, we all cry when the dice gods punish us, and they punish me plenty.  They punished me pretty hard on Turn 1 and 2 (I still can’t believe that southern PLO assault).  But when the dice gods favor us, we need to offer reciprocal gratitude.

The real win for me here was the successful playtest of Valor & Victory 1982.  This means Falklands, Gulf War 1991, Somalia 1993 … all are potentially within reach.

Of course I’m not done with Lebanon yet.  I want to draw up some counters in “The Arab Israeli Wars” (Israeli Merkava 1s, M109 Paladins, Syrian T-72s, Israeli AH-1 Cobras), etc.  And I have the beginnings of technical / BMPs / Israeli M113 “Zelda” APCs in Valor & Victory.

So stay tuned!  More to come!

Valor & Victory 1982 Lebanon (IDF v. PLO)

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Good afternoon, everyone

Community member Elessar2590 and I had a great stream Sunday (Monday morning for him) – recorded at www.twitch.tv/sitreppodcast/videos – where we play-tested my new 1982 IDF and PLO forces and first Lebanon board for Valor & Victory.  He took the PLO (on defense) and I took the IDF.

This is squad based game – each piece on the map is either a single officer, squad, fire team (half squad), or support weapon.

Each hex is about 30 yards / meters across.

The game takes place during Israel’s “Peace for Galilee” invasion of Lebanon, June 1982.

Here’s some quick background and context.  One of Israeli’s invasion routes into Lebanon in 1982 was along the southeast-to-northeast axis of the “Bekka Valley.”  The primary objective of this drive was to protect the flank of the frontal drive along the Lebanese coast toward Beirut, and to cut off in the interior of Lebanon from intervention from Syria (there nevertheless were some pretty serious tank and mechanized engagements in the Bekka Valley between IDF Merkava-1s and Syrian T-72s).  But as this drive pushed up the Bekka Valley, infantry and support detachments fan out along either flank to clear out PLO enclaves.  The green circle shows roughly where this one will take place.Here’s some quick background and context. One of Israeli’s invasion routes into Lebanon in 1982 was along the southeast-to-northeast axis of the “Bekka Valley.” The primary objective of this drive was to protect the flank of the frontal drive along the Lebanese coast toward Beirut, and to cut off in the interior of Lebanon from intervention from Syria (there nevertheless were some pretty serious tank and mechanized engagements in the Bekka Valley between IDF Merkava-1s and Syrian T-72s). But as this drive pushed up the Bekka Valley, infantry and support detachments fan out along either flank to clear out PLO enclaves. The green circle shows roughly where this one will take place.
Here’s the game map.  Yellow “target” markers indicate objective hexes.  The Israelis must take at least three of these five by the end of Turn 6.  The Israelis will be entering from the west, PLO can set up pretty much wherever they want.  The objective hexes show key road junctions and access off the east end of the table, as well as the largest (tallest) building on the map, marked as an objective hex because it offers commanding fields of view across much of the surrounding countryside.  Put more simply, the Israelis are coming on from the west, and have to take at least the majority of the access off the east edge of the board (to facilitate larger company-battalion level advance further east toward the Syrian border).Here’s the game map. Yellow “target” markers indicate objective hexes. The Israelis must take at least three of these five by the end of Turn 6. The Israelis will be entering from the west, PLO can set up pretty much wherever they want. The objective hexes show key road junctions and access off the east end of the table, as well as the largest (tallest) building on the map, marked as an objective hex because it offers commanding fields of view across much of the surrounding countryside. Put more simply, the Israelis are coming on from the west, and have to take at least the majority of the access off the east edge of the board (to facilitate larger company-battalion level advance further east toward the Syrian border).
The Israeli force.  I’ve got a captain, a radio team, two lieutenants, two platoons (each with two full squads and two half squads) – carrying a mix of FM MAG general purpose machine guns (GPMGs), Negev light machine guns, M72 LAW rockets and RPG-7 rockets.  Each platoon also has a two-man medic team attached.  We’re also carrying grenades, have three fire missions of 81mm mortars available from battalion, and two air strikes.  In all, 59 officers and men.The Israeli force. I’ve got a captain, a radio team, two lieutenants, two platoons (each with two full squads and two half squads) – carrying a mix of FM MAG general purpose machine guns (GPMGs), Negev light machine guns, M72 LAW rockets and RPG-7 rockets. Each platoon also has a two-man medic team attached. We’re also carrying grenades, have three fire missions of 81mm mortars available from battalion, and two air strikes. In all, 59 officers and men.
The PLO force.  They have a commander and three lieutenants, with three platoons (each of which have two full squads and two half squads, plus a mix of PKM, RPD, and RPK machine guns and RPG-7 rockets).  There’s also a four-man gunner team with a Soviet-made DShK 12.7mm heavy machine gun, and a supply of grenades.  In all, 80 guerillas.The PLO force. They have a commander and three lieutenants, with three platoons (each of which have two full squads and two half squads, plus a mix of PKM, RPD, and RPK machine guns and RPG-7 rockets). There’s also a four-man gunner team with a Soviet-made DShK 12.7mm heavy machine gun, and a supply of grenades. In all, 80 guerillas.
Things start off hairy right off the bat.  In the south I’m as careful as a I can, coming on with a platoon in two sections, some of it able to use “assault move.”  Basically, this is half-movement, but you get extra cover and are less likely to hit booby traps.  Some this northern platoon can’t use assault movement, and in fact hits a booby trap hidden in that northern ruined building. In the south, my captain and one lieutenant rush into the orchard.  Elessar’s opportunity fire with a forward RPG team misses, and I carry out the assault, eliminating the RPG team and taking a prisoner.  Things start off hairy right off the bat. In the south I’m as careful as a I can, coming on with a platoon in two sections, some of it able to use “assault move.” Basically, this is half-movement, but you get extra cover and are less likely to hit booby traps. Some this northern platoon can’t use assault movement, and in fact hits a booby trap hidden in that northern ruined building. In the south, my captain and one lieutenant rush into the orchard. Elessar’s opportunity fire with a forward RPG team misses, and I carry out the assault, eliminating the RPG team and taking a prisoner.
Things only get worse in the north.  Elessar runs up with a squad and a half of PLO fedeyeen and scores SNAKE EYES on his 2d6 antipersonnel firepower (APFP) attack roll.  Low rolls are better in this game, so this is a terrible result for my IDF infantry.  Even as two more fireteams are trying to help the first fireteam that hit the booby trap, now THEY are hit as well by PLO fire.  The roll is so good that Elessar’s PLO leader becomes “valorous” (note the attached medal), meaning he’s getting some insane bonuses for the rest of the game.   By counterfire is largely ineffective, and another RPG team pins another of my IDF fireteams (unit in the south set at an angle).  This northern section is in real trouble.  Things only get worse in the north. Elessar runs up with a squad and a half of PLO fedeyeen and scores SNAKE EYES on his 2d6 antipersonnel firepower (APFP) attack roll. Low rolls are better in this game, so this is a terrible result for my IDF infantry. Even as two more fireteams are trying to help the first fireteam that hit the booby trap, now THEY are hit as well by PLO fire. The roll is so good that Elessar’s PLO leader becomes “valorous” (note the attached medal), meaning he’s getting some insane bonuses for the rest of the game. By counterfire is largely ineffective, and another RPG team pins another of my IDF fireteams (unit in the south set at an angle). This northern section is in real trouble.
A close-up of the Lt. Amichai’s assault in the south.  Again, PLO opportunity fire thankfully missed.  I won the assault (quite easy, I had 17 men assaulting just 4, plus I  had an officer and invested one of my grenade counters), but even a successful assault means I have to “pay” three casualty points (one for the PLO RPG team and two for the +2 woods cover bonus).  I elected to pin three units, two of the 5-5-2 fireteams and my 10-5-4 full squad.  The squad rallied, but the two fireteams did not.  Essentially, when paying required casualty points, the game allows players to, as commanders, be cautious when they can afford it (pin more of your men, keeping casualties down) or ball-out when they have to me (accept casualties, but on fewer units, leaving other units in the stack ready for immediate action such as to repel anticipated counter-assaults).  Meanwhile, a successful assault on insurgents yields me a POW counter, worth extra VP if I can evacuate him off the table.  A close-up of the Lt. Amichai’s assault in the south. Again, PLO opportunity fire thankfully missed. I won the assault (quite easy, I had 17 men assaulting just 4, plus I had an officer and invested one of my grenade counters), but even a successful assault means I have to “pay” three casualty points (one for the PLO RPG team and two for the +2 woods cover bonus). I elected to pin three units, two of the 5-5-2 fireteams and my 10-5-4 full squad. The squad rallied, but the two fireteams did not. Essentially, when paying required casualty points, the game allows players to, as commanders, be cautious when they can afford it (pin more of your men, keeping casualties down) or ball-out when they have to me (accept casualties, but on fewer units, leaving other units in the stack ready for immediate action such as to repel anticipated counter-assaults). Meanwhile, a successful assault on insurgents yields me a POW counter, worth extra VP if I can evacuate him off the table.
Turn 2 – on the Israeli command phase, I decide to cook off ALL my off-board support assets right away.  I HAVE to save that northern platoon, if Elessar can assault the hex with all my casualties in there before I evac those casualties, they become IDF POWs worth double VP for the PLO player (already I pay 3 VP per casualty, if the PLO captures them they become 6 – to reflect torture, propaganda / ransom value, etc).  Suffice it to say all mortars and air strikes are hitting NOW, and my southern attack, despite doing well and not taking a single casualty so far, must give up the planned assault to the east and instead turn north, to pin down Elessar’s forward PLO elements and cover the casualty evacuation of that northern platoon.  As we see so often in Modern Warfare, the mission has immediately changed.  One booby trap, that probably it up that platoon for pin-point insurgent fire from concealed positions, immediately throws the whole plan into chaos.  It’s now about getting “your guys” off the battlefield and back to the aid station as fast as you can.Turn 2 – on the Israeli command phase, I decide to cook off ALL my off-board support assets right away. I HAVE to save that northern platoon, if Elessar can assault the hex with all my casualties in there before I evac those casualties, they become IDF POWs worth double VP for the PLO player (already I pay 3 VP per casualty, if the PLO captures them they become 6 – to reflect torture, propaganda / ransom value, etc). Suffice it to say all mortars and air strikes are hitting NOW, and my southern attack, despite doing well and not taking a single casualty so far, must give up the planned assault to the east and instead turn north, to pin down Elessar’s forward PLO elements and cover the casualty evacuation of that northern platoon. As we see so often in Modern Warfare, the mission has immediately changed. One booby trap, that probably it up that platoon for pin-point insurgent fire from concealed positions, immediately throws the whole plan into chaos. It’s now about getting “your guys” off the battlefield and back to the aid station as fast as you can.
My airstrikes don’t do that much.  They do paste that first RPG team, but the second one misses PLO leader Muzayin (valorous).  My planned mortar strike completely drifts off target, and in fact falls short and damned near hits my own position (intended for hex C1, landed in C3).  Meanwhile, Lt. Gandelev desperately pours fire down on Muzayin’s postion, later in the “Advance and Assault” phase I will belly crawl northeast one hex to get that medic into the hex with the casualties.  This will get at least one casualty off the table, and I’ll have troops to defend the others.My airstrikes don’t do that much. They do paste that first RPG team, but the second one misses PLO leader Muzayin (valorous). My planned mortar strike completely drifts off target, and in fact falls short and damned near hits my own position (intended for hex C1, landed in C3). Meanwhile, Lt. Gandelev desperately pours fire down on Muzayin’s postion, later in the “Advance and Assault” phase I will belly crawl northeast one hex to get that medic into the hex with the casualties. This will get at least one casualty off the table, and I’ll have troops to defend the others.
To the south, you can see where my two reinforced sections have turned north to start pouring cover fire up at the PLO nests that have my norther platoon pinned.  I was able to use assault movement here again (again, half movement, additional safety), but damn, it was a good thing I did.  Captain Masalha’s section rolled an 11 on 2d6 … and 11-12 hits a booby trap if you’re using normal movement, on assault movement only a 12 hits a booby trap.  So someone in this section literally had his boot on a trip wire, but because the section was moving cautiously at half speed, the man behind him was able to stop him JUST IN TIME before he set it off.  Gently back off, clip the wire, and defuse the mine … all while the platoon to your left continues to pour down cover fire for your wounded comrades to the north, and PLO fedeyeen squads mount an assault from the right … Meanwhile, two more Israeli mortar strikes were assigned to hit that freaking DShK nest in that fortified building.  One drifted off the target, but thankfully the second hits the target and takes out the HMG nest, also killing the PLO commander.  To the south, you can see where my two reinforced sections have turned north to start pouring cover fire up at the PLO nests that have my norther platoon pinned. I was able to use assault movement here again (again, half movement, additional safety), but damn, it was a good thing I did. Captain Masalha’s section rolled an 11 on 2d6 … and 11-12 hits a booby trap if you’re using normal movement, on assault movement only a 12 hits a booby trap. So someone in this section literally had his boot on a trip wire, but because the section was moving cautiously at half speed, the man behind him was able to stop him JUST IN TIME before he set it off. Gently back off, clip the wire, and defuse the mine … all while the platoon to your left continues to pour down cover fire for your wounded comrades to the north, and PLO fedeyeen squads mount an assault from the right … Meanwhile, two more Israeli mortar strikes were assigned to hit that freaking DShK nest in that fortified building. One drifted off the target, but thankfully the second hits the target and takes out the HMG nest, also killing the PLO commander.

This is only halfway through Turn 2, folks.  Stay tuned, I’ll put up the rest of this battle report later today (I hope).

Sitrep Podcast - Live at 8PM GMT - Valor & Victory 1982 Lebanon

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Skill 2
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Fingers crossed I can figure out how OBS works this time!  Hope to see some of you there!Fingers crossed I can figure out how OBS works this time! Hope to see some of you there!

Battle Report - Australians v. VC

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Apologies to everyone – I’ve way behind in battle reports.  Real fast, here is the recap for the Valor & Victory: Vietnam game played between myself and Elessar2590 last weekend, with Elessar playing Australians on defense (2 companies, “A”CO, 7th RAR, ATF) vs. attacking guerrillas of my 274th Main Force Regiment, National Liberation Front (Viet Cong).

Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam, January 1968)

Obviously, the Australians have a ridiculous advantage in firepower, but my victory conditions are much easier.  For instance, I get 10 points for each objective hex I take (he gets none or anything he holds). Also, he gets only 1 victory point for each casulaty inflicted on me, while I get 3 points for each casualty I inflict (knocked out officer, medic, or fireteam), make that 6 points if Elessar doesn’t manage to evacuate that casualty.  He also can’t fire into civilian hexes, and if any casualties are killed by his incidental fire, that’s 6 more victory points for me.

So let’s see how this goes …

Some quick context.  The Australian Task Force (ATF) spent most of the Vietnam War in this Phuoc Tuy Province, with particularly savage battles around Long Dien and the Lonh Hai Hills.  This is one of the few areas where the Viet Cong attacked the ATF instead of vice versa, so I picked this area since I usually like to let new players to a system take defense (attack or assault missions are actually much harder in most systems).Some quick context. The Australian Task Force (ATF) spent most of the Vietnam War in this Phuoc Tuy Province, with particularly savage battles around Long Dien and the Lonh Hai Hills. This is one of the few areas where the Viet Cong attacked the ATF instead of vice versa, so I picked this area since I usually like to let new players to a system take defense (attack or assault missions are actually much harder in most systems).
Here is a zoom out of the overall map.  NLF forces can attack from anywhere along the western, southern, or northern edges of the map.  I quickly take the western two objective hexes (wooded high ground overlooking the village, vital for future artillery or rocket attacks).  Civilian groups move randomly at the beginning of each movement phase.  Here is a zoom out of the overall map. NLF forces can attack from anywhere along the western, southern, or northern edges of the map. I quickly take the western two objective hexes (wooded high ground overlooking the village, vital for future artillery or rocket attacks). Civilian groups move randomly at the beginning of each movement phase.
My NLF/VC company.  I have a -2 captain and three -1 lieutenants, plus squads of VC insurgents, sappers, three off-board Chinese 82mm mortar attacks, an onboard section of 60mm mortars (captured American), and two teams of sappers.  Some of my men are carrying PKM GPMGs and RPG / B-40 rockets.  I also have eight grenade counters I can use in close-quarters combat.  In all, I'm coming on the table with 92 insurgents.My NLF/VC company. I have a -2 captain and three -1 lieutenants, plus squads of VC insurgents, sappers, three off-board Chinese 82mm mortar attacks, an onboard section of 60mm mortars (captured American), and two teams of sappers. Some of my men are carrying PKM GPMGs and RPG / B-40 rockets. I also have eight grenade counters I can use in close-quarters combat. In all, I'm coming on the table with 92 insurgents.
The Australian force is much smaller, with only a -2 captain, two -1 lieutenants, two platoons rifles, medics, and one section of 60mm mortars.  However, he has six fire missions of off-board 81mm mortars, extra M60 GPMGs, M79 Blooper (40mm grenade launchers), and M72 LAW rockets (one-shot Light Antitank Weapon).  Notice he also has more grenade counters than me.  In all, he's got 55 officers and men, albeit with much more firepower.  Beneath that, you'll also see three helos, one gunship and two transport birds, carrying another understrength platoon.  I'm not sure if he'll need these, but this scenario is not playtested and if it turns out he needs The Australian force is much smaller, with only a -2 captain, two -1 lieutenants, two platoons rifles, medics, and one section of 60mm mortars. However, he has six fire missions of off-board 81mm mortars, extra M60 GPMGs, M79 Blooper (40mm grenade launchers), and M72 LAW rockets (one-shot Light Antitank Weapon). Notice he also has more grenade counters than me. In all, he's got 55 officers and men, albeit with much more firepower. Beneath that, you'll also see three helos, one gunship and two transport birds, carrying another understrength platoon. I'm not sure if he'll need these, but this scenario is not playtested and if it turns out he needs "emergency reinforcements" - I'll bring them on during Turn 4.
The game starts off pretty bloody.  If you've seen our little video you seen where even the Australian off-board mortar missions that miss ... actually drift onto OTHER VC squads instead of the intended targets.  It's not all bad news, however, my VC Captain Che Lan Vien directs my 60mm mortars and takes out his mortar team in the sand bag bunker dug into the middle of that village.  This creates a casualty marker, which Elessar has to evacuate by bringing in a medic, then CASEVAC the casualty marker during his after-action phase.  The original Valor & Victory rule set does not include civilians or CASEVAC mechanics (originally presented fro WW2 squad wargaming) - I have drawn up these rules myself to more accurately depict the asymmetrical aspects of post-1945 conflicts.The game starts off pretty bloody. If you've seen our little video you seen where even the Australian off-board mortar missions that miss ... actually drift onto OTHER VC squads instead of the intended targets. It's not all bad news, however, my VC Captain Che Lan Vien directs my 60mm mortars and takes out his mortar team in the sand bag bunker dug into the middle of that village. This creates a casualty marker, which Elessar has to evacuate by bringing in a medic, then CASEVAC the casualty marker during his after-action phase. The original Valor & Victory rule set does not include civilians or CASEVAC mechanics (originally presented fro WW2 squad wargaming) - I have drawn up these rules myself to more accurately depict the asymmetrical aspects of post-1945 conflicts.
My NLF / VC squads keep moving forward, taking distressing casualties as they go once they come within range of Australian FN-FAL rifles and M60 GPMGs.  My squads are also a little slow because I don't has as many officers as I would like (movement in this game is typically 4, unless an officer is stacked with the squads, in which case the movement is increased to 6).  I call in all my offboard Chinese-built mortars, however, and blow anther couple squads out of those Vietnamese hooches in the village.    My NLF / VC squads keep moving forward, taking distressing casualties as they go once they come within range of Australian FN-FAL rifles and M60 GPMGs. My squads are also a little slow because I don't has as many officers as I would like (movement in this game is typically 4, unless an officer is stacked with the squads, in which case the movement is increased to 6). I call in all my offboard Chinese-built mortars, however, and blow anther couple squads out of those Vietnamese hooches in the village.
VC / NLF assualts are pretty much dying out in the south and center, but Lt. Tran Thanh Tong has a pretty serious platoon hooking around the north to assault that Australian squad holding a third objective hex, the roadblock / checkpoint to the north.  Not only does the presence of a -1 officer make this platoon more dangerous, but one of the fireteams is also carrying RPGs.   VC / NLF assualts are pretty much dying out in the south and center, but Lt. Tran Thanh Tong has a pretty serious platoon hooking around the north to assault that Australian squad holding a third objective hex, the roadblock / checkpoint to the north. Not only does the presence of a -1 officer make this platoon more dangerous, but one of the fireteams is also carrying RPGs.
My gambit to the north has decisively failed.  Not only did Australian opportunity fire largely shatter Tong's platoon (due in part to timely use of Australian grenades) but Lt. Badcoe is now leading a counter-assault southwest against the survivors.  When a successful assault is carried out against NVA / VC units, each fireteam or officer is converted into a POW counter.  If Elessar can evacuate these POWs safely, they are worth 3 VP for him instead of the usual 1 for eliminated insurgents.  For narrative purposes, this would be especially true since one of those POWs was Lt. Tong.  VC officers are particularly prized by intelligence officers back at battalion or regiment HQ.My gambit to the north has decisively failed. Not only did Australian opportunity fire largely shatter Tong's platoon (due in part to timely use of Australian grenades) but Lt. Badcoe is now leading a counter-assault southwest against the survivors. When a successful assault is carried out against NVA / VC units, each fireteam or officer is converted into a POW counter. If Elessar can evacuate these POWs safely, they are worth 3 VP for him instead of the usual 1 for eliminated insurgents. For narrative purposes, this would be especially true since one of those POWs was Lt. Tong. VC officers are particularly prized by intelligence officers back at battalion or regiment HQ.
When things start going badly for the VC, they go badly fast.  No worries, I still hold one objective hex, and if I can hold two, I'll probably win the game even in the face of nearly total casualties. Unfortunately for me, Elessar sees this coming and ensure these last two VC fireteams don't get a chance to fall back to that objective in Hex B3.  Lt. Wheatley and his squad in A5 and Badcoe in F2 have a crossfire set up  that kills one fireteam and pins the other as they try to withdraw across that stream.  Then, Captain Evans launches an assault on that pinned fireteam, claiming it as a last POW counter for extra VP.    When things start going badly for the VC, they go badly fast. No worries, I still hold one objective hex, and if I can hold two, I'll probably win the game even in the face of nearly total casualties. Unfortunately for me, Elessar sees this coming and ensure these last two VC fireteams don't get a chance to fall back to that objective in Hex B3. Lt. Wheatley and his squad in A5 and Badcoe in F2 have a crossfire set up that kills one fireteam and pins the other as they try to withdraw across that stream. Then, Captain Evans launches an assault on that pinned fireteam, claiming it as a last POW counter for extra VP.
So that's the game.  I have one officer left, literally my So that's the game. I have one officer left, literally my "last man standing." That's my captain, and he's still occupying one objective hex down int he southwest. That means I'll end the game with 10 extra VP, in addition to whatever I get from Australian casualties inflicted.
Final score.  Congrats to Elessar2590 on his win and first Valor & Victory game!  As you can see, even with a horrific imbalance in casualties, the insurgent player can still win (or at least come close) in these games if they can inflict respectable casualties and / or hold an objective hex.  If I was able to hold that second objective hex, even with a 5-1 kill ratio, I would have won.  Basically these objective hexes are high ground from which my last remaining officer can call in Katyusha rockets or D30 howitzers down on that village, at least inflicting one hellish night on the Australians and civilians therein.  But it'snot enough to win me the game, with a final score of 22 to 31.     Final score. Congrats to Elessar2590 on his win and first Valor & Victory game! As you can see, even with a horrific imbalance in casualties, the insurgent player can still win (or at least come close) in these games if they can inflict respectable casualties and / or hold an objective hex. If I was able to hold that second objective hex, even with a 5-1 kill ratio, I would have won. Basically these objective hexes are high ground from which my last remaining officer can call in Katyusha rockets or D30 howitzers down on that village, at least inflicting one hellish night on the Australians and civilians therein. But it'snot enough to win me the game, with a final score of 22 to 31.

Valor & Victory Vietnam v. Elessar2590 (Australians v. VC)

Tutoring 2
Skill 4
Idea 4
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Good morning, everyone.

Well, we were able to run Valor & Victory Vietnam game this Sunday – pitting @elessar2590 and his two platoons of “A” Co, 7th Royal Australian Regiment against Oriskany’s company of 274th NLF / VC Main Force Regiment in Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam, January 1968.

It was neat wargaming live with a player from Australia, playing Australian troops, in a historical Vietnam wargame.  The dice gods also seemed to remember it was his birthday, judging by how those opening mortar barrages landed!

Okay we were supposed to live stream this game, but it didn’t really work out.  But I did record someof the highlights, and post the video excerpts to Sitrep YouTube and Twitch channels.

Just a clip, of course.  But might bring a chuckle.  😀

 

1982 PLO in Valor & Victory

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Skill 5
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Good afternoon ~ Expanding on the idea idea of pushing Barry Doyle’s Valor & Victory system further into 1982 Lebanon, I’ve put the first swing into the opposition, namely the PLO / ALA for a “modern war” asymmetric dynamic.

A few more leaders,maybe another couple support weapons and game function counters (casualties, civilians, POWs, etc), and then we should be on to a couple of gameplay maps!

1982 PLO in Valor & Victory

1982 IDF in Valor & Victory

Tutoring 4
Skill 6
Idea 6
2 Comments

So we’ve been playing around with the idea of pushing Barry Doyle’s Valor & Victory system further into the modern era.  We’ve already done WW2 into Vietnam (late 1960s), i thought an interesting next step might be early 80s with Operation Peace for Galilee – the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Just starting out here.  This was one night.  Other factions will include Syrian Army, various irregulars (Palestinian Liberation Army / Arab Liberation Army / Hezbollah),  Phalange Christian militants, maybe even French and US Marine peacekeepers if this gets pushed into 1983 and beyond.

1982 IDF in Valor & Victory

Valley of Tears - Golan Heights, 1973 - Conclusion

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Skill 5
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So here is the wrap up for the epic game of The Arab Israeli Wars between myself and @damon .

Golan Heights, Israel v. Syria, October 7, 1973.

 

More Israeli reinforcements have arrived (Damon makes a roll at the beginning of each movement phase, a 1-2 on d6 indicates one of his four Centurion reserve platoons arrives from Yanosh's brigade HQ back at the Golan Customs House).  He's effectively sealed off my planned northern escape route (I don't have an image ready for it, but note the burning wrecks along the north, this was the last six of his IAF air strikes blowing the spearhead clean off 81st Armored Brigade / 3rd Armored Division).  Therefore, I'm turning south. and going for a new escape path clean over the north shoulder of Tel Hermonit.  Believe it or not, some of these guys might actually make it off the west end of the board and behind Israeli lines.  There are just so FEW Israeli units left, even knocking out three of them (note the Sagger ATGWsand T-55s of 78th Brigade have picked off another Centurion reinforcement platoon the apex of Tel Hermonit) has had a disastrous effect on Damon's line.More Israeli reinforcements have arrived (Damon makes a roll at the beginning of each movement phase, a 1-2 on d6 indicates one of his four Centurion reserve platoons arrives from Yanosh's brigade HQ back at the Golan Customs House). He's effectively sealed off my planned northern escape route (I don't have an image ready for it, but note the burning wrecks along the north, this was the last six of his IAF air strikes blowing the spearhead clean off 81st Armored Brigade / 3rd Armored Division). Therefore, I'm turning south. and going for a new escape path clean over the north shoulder of Tel Hermonit. Believe it or not, some of these guys might actually make it off the west end of the board and behind Israeli lines. There are just so FEW Israeli units left, even knocking out three of them (note the Sagger ATGWsand T-55s of 78th Brigade have picked off another Centurion reinforcement platoon the apex of Tel Hermonit) has had a disastrous effect on Damon's line.
The first BTR-60s of 85th Mechanized have now escaped through the deserted ruins of El Rom.  A battalion+ sized column of T-62s has now mounted Tel Hermonit, ready to follow and secure the breakthrough.  Meanwhile, my 82mm mortar battery has been re-positioned after a laborious process, and now lays down smoke to blind some of the Israeli firing positions.  The first BTR-60s of 85th Mechanized have now escaped through the deserted ruins of El Rom. A battalion+ sized column of T-62s has now mounted Tel Hermonit, ready to follow and secure the breakthrough. Meanwhile, my 82mm mortar battery has been re-positioned after a laborious process, and now lays down smoke to blind some of the Israeli firing positions.
Turn 10, and the game is finally winding down.  Most of that column from the 81st Armored has broken clear.  Some units were left behind, and now have no real chance of following off the west edge of the table with Damon redeploying three Centurion platoons in and around El Rom to seal the breach.  Some of my infantry survivors, meanwhile, have also fortified themselves in Israeli IPs on the north shoulder of Tel Hermonit.Turn 10, and the game is finally winding down. Most of that column from the 81st Armored has broken clear. Some units were left behind, and now have no real chance of following off the west edge of the table with Damon redeploying three Centurion platoons in and around El Rom to seal the breach. Some of my infantry survivors, meanwhile, have also fortified themselves in Israeli IPs on the north shoulder of Tel Hermonit.
The grim score sheet.  Okay, I know this game was announced at the live stream as a Syrian win (a full battalion - 45 AFVs and 50+ infantry broke through Israeli defenses here and are now probably overrunning Brigade HQ), but that's because the I didn't count the Israeli points correctly.  Monday morning I reached out to Damon and told him he in fact WON this game, although only by one point.  Long story short, I forgot Israeli units get TWO points per kill, not ONE.  So what's happened instead here is that yes, a large Syrian battlegroup broke through and is currently driving hell-for-heather for the Jordan River and the Galilee river crossings.  But ... with this corps-area breakthrough zone basically smashed behind them, and 7th Infantry and 3rd Armored more or less powerless to sustain the breakthrough or send support, the Syrians will eventually be pinned down and forced to surrender by Israeli operational reserves (probably Peled's Division).  In the end, the points tell the story and define the narrative.  But DAMN, this was a close one! The grim score sheet. Okay, I know this game was announced at the live stream as a Syrian win (a full battalion - 45 AFVs and 50+ infantry broke through Israeli defenses here and are now probably overrunning Brigade HQ), but that's because the I didn't count the Israeli points correctly. Monday morning I reached out to Damon and told him he in fact WON this game, although only by one point. Long story short, I forgot Israeli units get TWO points per kill, not ONE. So what's happened instead here is that yes, a large Syrian battlegroup broke through and is currently driving hell-for-heather for the Jordan River and the Galilee river crossings. But ... with this corps-area breakthrough zone basically smashed behind them, and 7th Infantry and 3rd Armored more or less powerless to sustain the breakthrough or send support, the Syrians will eventually be pinned down and forced to surrender by Israeli operational reserves (probably Peled's Division). In the end, the points tell the story and define the narrative. But DAMN, this was a close one!
The field of battle after the fight ... 225 Syrian tanks and AFVs are wrecked on the table, along with 25 Israeli Centurions. (A kill ratio of almost 10:1, exactly what we see at the Golan historically).  Also, an Israeli fighter jet burns to the north.  Some Syrian bridges have been thrown over the Purple Line's antitank ditch, along with wrecked armor IN the trench itself.  The Israeli line remains more or less intact, but badly weakened, and again, a reinforced Syrian battalion+ DID get through. The field of battle after the fight ... 225 Syrian tanks and AFVs are wrecked on the table, along with 25 Israeli Centurions. (A kill ratio of almost 10:1, exactly what we see at the Golan historically). Also, an Israeli fighter jet burns to the north. Some Syrian bridges have been thrown over the Purple Line's antitank ditch, along with wrecked armor IN the trench itself. The Israeli line remains more or less intact, but badly weakened, and again, a reinforced Syrian battalion+ DID get through.

Valley of Tears - Golan Heights, 1973

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
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So we’ve finished the game.  It took 6 hours and 43 minutes.  It is posted in its entirety on Twitch for those that are interested.  Needless to say, an entire blow-by-blow battle report would be a little too large to post here, so I’ll post some highlights and if anyone has any questions, I will certainly answer them either here or on the new Sitrep Modern Military Gaming thread.

Full Twitch Stream:

Damon v. Oriskany – Golan Heights 

Sitrep Modern Military Gaming Hub / Thread 

So here is the full map again, only this time with Damon's forty tanks of 77th Armored Battalion, 7th Brigade (Lt. Colonel A. Kahalani) deployed on the Tel Hermonit and Booster Ridge, extending north of Kuneitra along the Purple Line at daybreak, 7 October 1973.  For my money, this is where scaled wargaming (regardless of the medium) really shines.  With enough attention paid to scale, distances, real-life numbers, etc., you can build a board and set up a force, and get an instant So here is the full map again, only this time with Damon's forty tanks of 77th Armored Battalion, 7th Brigade (Lt. Colonel A. Kahalani) deployed on the Tel Hermonit and Booster Ridge, extending north of Kuneitra along the Purple Line at daybreak, 7 October 1973. For my money, this is where scaled wargaming (regardless of the medium) really shines. With enough attention paid to scale, distances, real-life numbers, etc., you can build a board and set up a force, and get an instant "feel" of just how desperate a situation really was. This is forty "Sho't Cal" Centurions (five tanks per platoon / counter = eight pieces), which sounds like a big force ... and would be a big force on a six foot 15mm table ... but then set it up on the actual battlefield that measured 6+ kilometers (250 meters per hex), and that blue line suddenly gets very very thin.
Some of Damon's Sho't Cal Centurions on Booster Ridge, overlooking what history would soon call the Valley of Tears. Some of Damon's Sho't Cal Centurions on Booster Ridge, overlooking what history would soon call the Valley of Tears.
The total Syrian force.  Two full brigades of Soviet-built tanks, 100 T-55s, 100 T-62s, plus support vehicles, a reinforced mech infantry battalion, engineers, Sagger antitank missiles, you name it.  Historically the Syrians also had formidable artillery off-board, but this scenario out of the AIW book doesn't include it so we're leaving it out (I changed the map, that's probably enough alteration to the published scenario already).  Also the Israelis have 20 air strikes ready to go, but I get 2 VP for each air strike Damon feels forced to call in.  A special rule allows for one platoon of standard Sho't Centurions to enter the table (the four along the bottom) on a die roll at the beginning of each Israeli movement phase.The total Syrian force. Two full brigades of Soviet-built tanks, 100 T-55s, 100 T-62s, plus support vehicles, a reinforced mech infantry battalion, engineers, Sagger antitank missiles, you name it. Historically the Syrians also had formidable artillery off-board, but this scenario out of the AIW book doesn't include it so we're leaving it out (I changed the map, that's probably enough alteration to the published scenario already). Also the Israelis have 20 air strikes ready to go, but I get 2 VP for each air strike Damon feels forced to call in. A special rule allows for one platoon of standard Sho't Centurions to enter the table (the four along the bottom) on a die roll at the beginning of each Israeli movement phase.
Turn one, and first blood is drawn!  Under a massive pall of sand and dust, almost 300 Syrian AFVs roll toward the Purple Line (cease-fire line between Syria and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights).  But at the range of 12 hexes (3000 meters), Damon's Sho't Cals have already opened fire and scored the first kills, as the Syrian armor pushes through the antitank ditch dug along the 1967 cease-fire line.Turn one, and first blood is drawn! Under a massive pall of sand and dust, almost 300 Syrian AFVs roll toward the Purple Line (cease-fire line between Syria and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights). But at the range of 12 hexes (3000 meters), Damon's Sho't Cals have already opened fire and scored the first kills, as the Syrian armor pushes through the antitank ditch dug along the 1967 cease-fire line.
Turn Two - Syrian advance continues, lead tank brigades are now fully across the Purple Line, advancing 750 meters before being struck again.  Damon has no shortage of targets here, obviously, he has LOS on nearly everything thanks to his elevated positions on the Tel Hermonit hill.  So he has to carefully choose his targets.  He's picking off APCs still loaded with infantry for double points, as well as mine clearing PT-54 tanks and MTU-12 bridgelayers.  Turn Two - Syrian advance continues, lead tank brigades are now fully across the Purple Line, advancing 750 meters before being struck again. Damon has no shortage of targets here, obviously, he has LOS on nearly everything thanks to his elevated positions on the Tel Hermonit hill. So he has to carefully choose his targets. He's picking off APCs still loaded with infantry for double points, as well as mine clearing PT-54 tanks and MTU-12 bridgelayers.
Speaking of killing bridgelayers, the first Israeli fighter-bomber streaks in to take out my poor brirdgelayers attached to 81st Armoured.  Awww!  He's just a bridgelayer!  They barely have guns!  And didn't even shoot at anyone!  He just wants to build his little bridges!  :(Speaking of killing bridgelayers, the first Israeli fighter-bomber streaks in to take out my poor brirdgelayers attached to 81st Armoured. Awww! He's just a bridgelayer! They barely have guns! And didn't even shoot at anyone! He just wants to build his little bridges! :(
Things get more serious to the north.  Okay, by now Damon has clued in to my intentions.  The way the overall map is laid out, there really is only ONE VIABLE PATH for me to make an operational-scale breakout (the point of the Syrian victory conditions).  I can't swing to the south because the Bental Reservoir blocks my path.  I can't go up the center because he'll collapse both wings on me and butcher me in a crossfire (PRO TIP - in breakthrough games NEVER EVER go up the center).  That leaves only the north, which Damon now realizes ad commits another four IAF fighter bombers to blunt.  This time I put up counterfire (a heavy decision as this counts as opportunity fire, any Syrian unit that uses it will be unable to fire or move NEXT turn).  But it turns out to be worth it, I actually shoot down one F4 Phantom!  BA-BOOM!   Things get more serious to the north. Okay, by now Damon has clued in to my intentions. The way the overall map is laid out, there really is only ONE VIABLE PATH for me to make an operational-scale breakout (the point of the Syrian victory conditions). I can't swing to the south because the Bental Reservoir blocks my path. I can't go up the center because he'll collapse both wings on me and butcher me in a crossfire (PRO TIP - in breakthrough games NEVER EVER go up the center). That leaves only the north, which Damon now realizes ad commits another four IAF fighter bombers to blunt. This time I put up counterfire (a heavy decision as this counts as opportunity fire, any Syrian unit that uses it will be unable to fire or move NEXT turn). But it turns out to be worth it, I actually shoot down one F4 Phantom! BA-BOOM!
A wide-angle view of the situation at the end of Turn 4. Originally feinting to the center, 78th Armored Brigade now pivots and faces northward to join the 81st in a single titanic shove of Soviet-built steel.  There are still over 150 Syrian tanks rushing up, and the range has now closed to within 1000 meters in some places (4 hexes).A wide-angle view of the situation at the end of Turn 4. Originally feinting to the center, 78th Armored Brigade now pivots and faces northward to join the 81st in a single titanic shove of Soviet-built steel. There are still over 150 Syrian tanks rushing up, and the range has now closed to within 1000 meters in some places (4 hexes).
Increasingly frantic to keep the Syrians at bay, Damon keeps calling in air strikes.  Great, but remember I get 2 VP for each air strike he calls in.  That's just that much LESS air support going to other sectors that probably need it more, like the tragic 188th Increasingly frantic to keep the Syrians at bay, Damon keeps calling in air strikes. Great, but remember I get 2 VP for each air strike he calls in. That's just that much LESS air support going to other sectors that probably need it more, like the tragic 188th "Barak Brigade" - historically fighting a battle perhaps even more desperate to the south.
At last, the Syrians open fire. With lead Syrian elements of 85th Mechanized and 81st Armored just 750 meters from the edge of the table (upper left), Israeli reserves and Damon's redeployed tanks off of Booster Ridge to the south are arriving just in time to seal this possible breach. Seriously, JUST in time, I was within inches of winning the game right here. In his haste, though, Damon moved one platoon of Sho't Cals in the open atop t he north shoulder of Tel Hermonit ridge, and T-62s of 81st Armored blew them to kingdom come. A massive frontal fusillade also opens fire on another of Kahalani's platoons on the top of the ridge, including a hail of dreaded AT-3 "Sagger" guided antitank missiles from that infantry battery hidden in Al Qila. I get on the 7:1 odds column on the Combat Results Table, the deadliest there is, but remember that Damon gets a +2 for hull down shielding and a +2 for Improved Positions (historically, tank firing ramps). This means a total +4 defense bonus on my d6 roll. That a very serious modifier, but I get lucky with a "2" and just barely kill that platoon. That's TWO tank platoons down, a full quarter of Damon's initial force. The first crack has appeared, and I've got my crowbar pushing in deeper every turn . . .
Valley of Tears - Golan Heights, 1973

Preparing for LIVE WEB game, Golan Heights 1973 (6:00 PM GMT)

Tutoring 6
Skill 5
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We’re preparing for another live web game of The Arab-Israeli Wars.   This time it will  be a “historically improved” rendition of what is probably the most epic single tank battle since the end of World War II, Lt. Col. Avidgor Kahalani’s 77th Tank Battalion at the “Valley of Tears” – Golan Heights, October 1973.

Outnumbered in places by up to 15:1, these 40 American-engined Centurions (Sho’t Cal) faced off against a combined total of 230+ Syrian T-55s and T-62s, plus perhaps 100+ more  infantry carriers (BTR-50s and 60s).

We’ll see if Damon can hold the “Heights of Courage” (title of Kahalani’s book) against my Syrian onslaught.

So far, I’ve spent most of the day trying to piece together an accurate map of the battlefield, “translating” it into TAIW system, and getting the scenario ready for tomorrow’s game.

If anyone’s interested in stopping by and checking this out live as it is played, ping me a PM and I’ll send you a link.

Preparing for LIVE WEB game, Golan Heights 1973 (6:00 PM GMT)

Tinkering with New Counters - 1967 and 73 Arab-Israeli Wars - West Bank and Golan Heights

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Just tinkering with new counters in Photoshop - updated with new graphics and research for Avalon Hill's Just tinkering with new counters in Photoshop - updated with new graphics and research for Avalon Hill's "The Arab Israeli Wars"

Meanwhile, the new Episode of the Ops Center is now live on On TableTop, YouTube, and Facebook!

Episode 02 – The Six Day War

Give it a watch, comment, or like if you enjoy the video!

And remember to ask questions if you’re curious about anything, we’ll try to feature a response in the next episode!

1967 Six Day War - Battle at Bir Lahfan

Tutoring 4
Skill 6
Idea 6
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So with Episode 01 of the Ops Center up …

YouTube

BoW

… going over the 1956 Arab-Israeli Sinai War, we’re now moving into the 1967 “Six Day” War.  Again it was myself and Damon at a table of Avalon Hill’s The Arab Israeli Wars, with Damon playing the Israelis and myself playing the Egyptians.

The big difference here between this and previous TAIW games is that for once, the Israelis are on the defensive.  Damon’s Centurions, TCM-20s, and infantry will try to hold a Sinai crossroads and the high ground flanking it against superior numbers of one of Egypt’s better tank and mechanized brigades.

Furthermore, the battle takes place (initially) at night, where the Egyptians actually have a slight advantage in Soviet IR sights. If they can hold out until morning, however, the Israeli Air force (IAF) arrives in force, undertaking more tactical strike missions on the second day of the way now that the strikes against Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian air forces and C3 networks have been completed.

The battle on the table was the Battle of Bir Lahfan, fought primarily in the wee hours of the morning of June 6, 1967.  Sneaking between heavily entrenched Egyptian fortification complexes, leading elements of Yoffe’s 31st Division have now taken the Sinai crossroads at Bir Lahfan.  They are thus astride Egyptian communication and transport routes between fortified areas of Rafah to the north, and Abu Agheila to the south.  As Egyptian reinforcements try to respond to either threatened sector (under attack from Tal’s Division and Sharon’s Division, respectively), they will now run into 200th Armored Brigade.  They Egyptians organize a night attack by the 2nd Armored Brigade (T-55s), plus mechanized infantry if the 18th Mechanized Brigade (BTR-60 troop carriers) in hideous numbers.  The attack will come around 0300-0400 hours on the morning of 6 June.  The Israeli battalion here has called in air strikes, but they will not arrive until the run comes up.  Also, heavy reinforcements are approaching from the north (7th Armored Brigade, Tal’s Division) from the Jeradi Pass and the coastal town of El Arish.   But they won’t arrive until noon.  For most of this game on the table, the lead battalion (Lt. Col. Abraham Bar-Am) of 200th Brigade (Col  Aluf Mishne Shadmi) will be on their own.   GREEN RECTANGLE shows the scaled and measured size of our700-hex AIW table (with I” hexes = 1:10,000 scale, 250 meters / hex). The battle on the table was the Battle of Bir Lahfan, fought primarily in the wee hours of the morning of June 6, 1967. Sneaking between heavily entrenched Egyptian fortification complexes, leading elements of Yoffe’s 31st Division have now taken the Sinai crossroads at Bir Lahfan. They are thus astride Egyptian communication and transport routes between fortified areas of Rafah to the north, and Abu Agheila to the south. As Egyptian reinforcements try to respond to either threatened sector (under attack from Tal’s Division and Sharon’s Division, respectively), they will now run into 200th Armored Brigade. They Egyptians organize a night attack by the 2nd Armored Brigade (T-55s), plus mechanized infantry if the 18th Mechanized Brigade (BTR-60 troop carriers) in hideous numbers. The attack will come around 0300-0400 hours on the morning of 6 June. The Israeli battalion here has called in air strikes, but they will not arrive until the run comes up. Also, heavy reinforcements are approaching from the north (7th Armored Brigade, Tal’s Division) from the Jeradi Pass and the coastal town of El Arish. But they won’t arrive until noon. For most of this game on the table, the lead battalion (Lt. Col. Abraham Bar-Am) of 200th Brigade (Col Aluf Mishne Shadmi) will be on their own. GREEN RECTANGLE shows the scaled and measured size of our700-hex AIW table (with I” hexes = 1:10,000 scale, 250 meters / hex).
Bar-Am’s Battalion, Shadmi’s Brigade, Yoffe’s Division (reinforced by mechanized infantry in halftracks and some TCM-20 SPAA systems and an M3 mortar carrier) set up and ready to face the Egyptians coming out of the southwest.  Roads lead southwest to Jebel Libni (where the next big  battle is fought by this unit historically enter this afternoon and into the night, reinforced by elements of 7th Brigade), northwest to the coastal rail junction of El Arish, northeast to the crucial Jeradi Pass (Egyptian 7th Infantry Division), and southeast to the huge Egyptian fortification complex of Abu Agheila and Um Katef (2nd Egyptian Infantry Division, where Sharon’s Division is currently engaged in a furious battle).Bar-Am’s Battalion, Shadmi’s Brigade, Yoffe’s Division (reinforced by mechanized infantry in halftracks and some TCM-20 SPAA systems and an M3 mortar carrier) set up and ready to face the Egyptians coming out of the southwest. Roads lead southwest to Jebel Libni (where the next big battle is fought by this unit historically enter this afternoon and into the night, reinforced by elements of 7th Brigade), northwest to the coastal rail junction of El Arish, northeast to the crucial Jeradi Pass (Egyptian 7th Infantry Division), and southeast to the huge Egyptian fortification complex of Abu Agheila and Um Katef (2nd Egyptian Infantry Division, where Sharon’s Division is currently engaged in a furious battle).
The Egyptians make their rush.  One thing you can’t away from the T-55s are their speed and, in this case, their numbers.  In all I have 15 counters (75 tanks), plus 15 SU-100s and 50 BTR-60s carrying 450 Egyptian infantry plus headquarters section.  But the “Shot” Centurions (L7 105mm guns) in reverse slope hull down positions along that ridge open fire, in some cases at ranges of 3000 meters (12 hexes, almost two miles) and score the first kills.  FULL DISCLOSURE – I’m not 100% sure I got the Egyptian force correct, 18th Mech Brigade was part of 3rd Infantry Division – but we know from eyewitnesses those were T-55 tanks, and that’s probably from 4th Armoured Division further back.  There were several battles between sunset of 5 June and then toward the advance on Jebel Libni 24 hours later.  I think I might have gotten two of these attacks merged together.The Egyptians make their rush. One thing you can’t away from the T-55s are their speed and, in this case, their numbers. In all I have 15 counters (75 tanks), plus 15 SU-100s and 50 BTR-60s carrying 450 Egyptian infantry plus headquarters section. But the “Shot” Centurions (L7 105mm guns) in reverse slope hull down positions along that ridge open fire, in some cases at ranges of 3000 meters (12 hexes, almost two miles) and score the first kills. FULL DISCLOSURE – I’m not 100% sure I got the Egyptian force correct, 18th Mech Brigade was part of 3rd Infantry Division – but we know from eyewitnesses those were T-55 tanks, and that’s probably from 4th Armoured Division further back. There were several battles between sunset of 5 June and then toward the advance on Jebel Libni 24 hours later. I think I might have gotten two of these attacks merged together.
Egyptian infantry is blatantly sacrificed, trying to pin down the Israeli Centurions in the center and south while I use the cover of Bir Lahfan to swing tanks around the north.  I’ve had SOME success in killing Centurions on the high ground, but it’s taking fire phases of 60 tanks and 15 tank destroyers to MAYBE kill one platoon of 5 Centurions.  But of course, I outnumber the Israelis by a tremendous margin.  And one or two lost Centurion platoons could easily destabilize the whole 200th Brigade line.  Welcome to the Arab-Israeli Wars.  Egyptian infantry is blatantly sacrificed, trying to pin down the Israeli Centurions in the center and south while I use the cover of Bir Lahfan to swing tanks around the north. I’ve had SOME success in killing Centurions on the high ground, but it’s taking fire phases of 60 tanks and 15 tank destroyers to MAYBE kill one platoon of 5 Centurions. But of course, I outnumber the Israelis by a tremendous margin. And one or two lost Centurion platoons could easily destabilize the whole 200th Brigade line. Welcome to the Arab-Israeli Wars.
The swing around the north does kind of work, but again, Egyptian losses are simply ghastly.  I shift weight to the other foot, instead shoving straight up the slope, using the SHAPE of that slope to blind some Israeli gunners.  But chugging up that slope is slow going, and we’re on Turn 5 now … which means the sun has come up and Israeli gunners can now see as clearly as I could with IR sights.  More Centurions are burning, however, along with some Israeli halftracks and TCM-20 SPAA mounts (also on WW2 surplus halftracks).The swing around the north does kind of work, but again, Egyptian losses are simply ghastly. I shift weight to the other foot, instead shoving straight up the slope, using the SHAPE of that slope to blind some Israeli gunners. But chugging up that slope is slow going, and we’re on Turn 5 now … which means the sun has come up and Israeli gunners can now see as clearly as I could with IR sights. More Centurions are burning, however, along with some Israeli halftracks and TCM-20 SPAA mounts (also on WW2 surplus halftracks).
Turn 06, the sun is now FULLY up and the IAF makes its appearance.  Again, apologies, these should be Mystere class fighter bombers, not Mirage IIIs.  Massive Egyptian opportunity fire phase as a veritable wall of ground fire comes up against these jets.  But only one is driven off (jets are extremely hard to shoot down or drive off with just AKs and HMGs, please remember the SIZE of this Egyptian force and remember these jets are using unguided rockets, which mean they have to get very close).  The seven remaining Mystere fighter bombers release ordinance and blow ten T-55s (two counters) clean off that ridge.  But even now, Israeli losses are mounting.  Turn 06, the sun is now FULLY up and the IAF makes its appearance. Again, apologies, these should be Mystere class fighter bombers, not Mirage IIIs. Massive Egyptian opportunity fire phase as a veritable wall of ground fire comes up against these jets. But only one is driven off (jets are extremely hard to shoot down or drive off with just AKs and HMGs, please remember the SIZE of this Egyptian force and remember these jets are using unguided rockets, which mean they have to get very close). The seven remaining Mystere fighter bombers release ordinance and blow ten T-55s (two counters) clean off that ridge. But even now, Israeli losses are mounting.
Giving up on the southern and central ridges, the Israeli Centurions condense their defense on the crossroads of Bir Lahfan itself.  In so doing, they more or less smash my northern arm.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that my remaining T-55s, SU-100s, and even BTR-60s now have the high ground and the Israelis are no longer getting +2 DRM on all my fire coming at them because of hull-down shielding.  In fact, I’M getting the +2 DRM for my SU-100s, which Damon keeps dispersing but never quite killing.   Meanwhile, I’m dying fast everywhere else, but still inflicting casualties.  One thing’s for sure, Damon’s paying  a much steeper butcher’s bill for this defense than Bar-Am’s Battalion did historically.Giving up on the southern and central ridges, the Israeli Centurions condense their defense on the crossroads of Bir Lahfan itself. In so doing, they more or less smash my northern arm. That’s the bad news. The good news is that my remaining T-55s, SU-100s, and even BTR-60s now have the high ground and the Israelis are no longer getting +2 DRM on all my fire coming at them because of hull-down shielding. In fact, I’M getting the +2 DRM for my SU-100s, which Damon keeps dispersing but never quite killing. Meanwhile, I’m dying fast everywhere else, but still inflicting casualties. One thing’s for sure, Damon’s paying a much steeper butcher’s bill for this defense than Bar-Am’s Battalion did historically.
Relocated Centurions (30 of them in three counters, plus 10 TCM-20s and a couple hundred infantry) deliver the coup de grace against the T-55s and SU-100s.Relocated Centurions (30 of them in three counters, plus 10 TCM-20s and a couple hundred infantry) deliver the coup de grace against the T-55s and SU-100s.
The Egyptians survivors start pulling back to the wadi along the Jebel Libni Road, as I call the game.  Congrats to Damon on a rugged, measured, and flexible defense! The Egyptians survivors start pulling back to the wadi along the Jebel Libni Road, as I call the game. Congrats to Damon on a rugged, measured, and flexible defense!

Assault on Kussiema - Replay for Testing

Tutoring 4
Skill 6
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Last weekend @damon and I played a wargame in Avalon Hill’s The Arab-Israeli Wars, recreating the assault on Kussiema.  This was part of the IDF’s initial ground offensive that opened their invasion of the Egyptian Sinai on 30 October 1956.  The battle report is below in this project thread.

Long story short, my Egyptians won this game, and pretty  handily, too.  So much so, in fact, that I was actually a little concerned whether the scenario I had designed was actually balanced.

The Israelis have, predictably, overpowering advantages in mobility and firepower.  The will win this battle, ten times out of ten.  The trick with asymmetrical wargaming is to design a scenario that challenges the Israelis to win quickly enough, cheaply enough, etc.

Historically this is a good fit as well, as this assault (4th Brigade), originally meant as a supporting flank assault, was abruptly upgraded to the “main” attack when the original main attack (10th Brigade further north) largely failed. So 7th Armored Brigade was chucked in to support 4th in a new combined thrust around the Egyptian southern wing.  Standing in their way was this Egyptian outpost at Kussiema.  The point is, the Israelis have to win and win fast in order to turn the Um-Katef  defenses from the south and thus crack open the larger Egyptian defense in the Abu Agheila region.

So the game has five objective hexes, set on crossroads and road exit points.  The Israeli player is challenged with taking at least four of these hexes within ten turns.  It may not be clear on the maps, but control of four hexes basically means that the Israelis have opened at least one complete route from their entry zone on the northeast corner of the board, off the western end of the table.  Again, to facilitate larger-scale operations against the south and rear flanks of Um Katef.

Now in the game with @damon, he got two of the five.  Israeli tanks barely laid eyes on the third objective hex.  Did I give the Israelis enough time in this scenario?

So I reset the game and ran it myself, seeing if I can go hell-for-leather with the 7th / 4th Brigades and crack this game in ten turns or less.

The Israelis come on the table swinging.  Rather than even coming on the table loaded in their halftracks, they launch an immediate assault on the frontier outpost at Jabel Sabha.  Egyptian opportunity fire does do damage and takes out one while Israeli machine gun platoon straight away, but again ... the Israelis are trading safety for speed here.  Using the Quick March rule halves their defense against opportunity fire, and the Egyptian national border guards do have Czech 107mm recoilless rifles in there.  But the assualt goes in, and the town is starting to fall.The Israelis come on the table swinging. Rather than even coming on the table loaded in their halftracks, they launch an immediate assault on the frontier outpost at Jabel Sabha. Egyptian opportunity fire does do damage and takes out one while Israeli machine gun platoon straight away, but again ... the Israelis are trading safety for speed here. Using the Quick March rule halves their defense against opportunity fire, and the Egyptian national border guards do have Czech 107mm recoilless rifles in there. But the assualt goes in, and the town is starting to fall.
Turn 2 - the Israeli 7th Armored Brigade is now close enough with those loooong-ranged 75mm French AMX-13 guns to engage the Egyptian Archer tank destroyers on that southwestern ridge. Israeli tanks are also calling barrages from their off board 155mm howitzer batteries.  Those shells will arrive next turn. Meanwhile, the assault into Jebel Sabha continues.  Turn 2 - the Israeli 7th Armored Brigade is now close enough with those loooong-ranged 75mm French AMX-13 guns to engage the Egyptian Archer tank destroyers on that southwestern ridge. Israeli tanks are also calling barrages from their off board 155mm howitzer batteries. Those shells will arrive next turn. Meanwhile, the assault into Jebel Sabha continues.
Turn 3 - in the north, the Israelis have had eyes on the next objective hex (two platoons of M1 Shermans spotting those eastern town hexes of Kussiema) and call in Turn 3 artillery missions that will impact on Turn 4.  Meanwhile, Israeli artillery on Turn 3 - in the north, the Israelis have had eyes on the next objective hex (two platoons of M1 Shermans spotting those eastern town hexes of Kussiema) and call in Turn 3 artillery missions that will impact on Turn 4. Meanwhile, Israeli artillery on "Archer Ridge" somewhat scatters due in part to Egyptian smoke screens fired from 82mm mortars). But some are dispersed (pinned),allowing the Israelis to again fire and move forward (Split Move and Fire rules is a big advantage enjoyed by Israeli turreted AFVs).
Turn 4 - Jebel Sabha is finally taken.  The difference here is is that while the infantry were left behind to grind down Egyptian resistance in this border town, Israeli tanks and halftracks were swinging around this obstacle to simultaneously attack other objectives at the same time.  For instance, 7th Armored has more or less suppressed Archer Ridge and is now threatening Kussiema East from the southeast.  First Israeli artillery missions have landed on these hexes and started burning down Egyptian infantry platoons dug in on that crossroads objective hex.Turn 4 - Jebel Sabha is finally taken. The difference here is is that while the infantry were left behind to grind down Egyptian resistance in this border town, Israeli tanks and halftracks were swinging around this obstacle to simultaneously attack other objectives at the same time. For instance, 7th Armored has more or less suppressed Archer Ridge and is now threatening Kussiema East from the southeast. First Israeli artillery missions have landed on these hexes and started burning down Egyptian infantry platoons dug in on that crossroads objective hex.
Eastern Kussiema is now badly under threat.  Israeli artillery fire is really starting to tell, Archer Ridge is now more or less smoking wreckage, and 7th Armored Brigade is now applying direct fire against the crossroads southern flank.Eastern Kussiema is now badly under threat. Israeli artillery fire is really starting to tell, Archer Ridge is now more or less smoking wreckage, and 7th Armored Brigade is now applying direct fire against the crossroads southern flank.
Turn 6 - The Kussiema crossroads have now fallen, although the Israeli victory (rushed) has not been bloodless at all.  The tanks have again bypassed the town once the infantry have caught up and the Egyptians have been sufficiently reduced by heavy firepower, and Israeli infantry assault can carry the victory.  The point is to already be on the next phase of your attack, thus cutting down the number of turns required by the overall process.  Among the losses have been the Israeli halftrack mortar carriers, a critical loss considering how useful this weapon is as a direct-fire weapon to engage soft targets in town hexes..Turn 6 - The Kussiema crossroads have now fallen, although the Israeli victory (rushed) has not been bloodless at all. The tanks have again bypassed the town once the infantry have caught up and the Egyptians have been sufficiently reduced by heavy firepower, and Israeli infantry assault can carry the victory. The point is to already be on the next phase of your attack, thus cutting down the number of turns required by the overall process. Among the losses have been the Israeli halftrack mortar carriers, a critical loss considering how useful this weapon is as a direct-fire weapon to engage soft targets in town hexes..
Mopping up Kussiema corssroads, Egyptian engineers, 17 pounders and 107mm recoiless rifles have to dealt with.  Meanwhile, Israeli 7th Armored Brigade has already opened a Mopping up Kussiema corssroads, Egyptian engineers, 17 pounders and 107mm recoiless rifles have to dealt with. Meanwhile, Israeli 7th Armored Brigade has already opened a
Turn 8:  Critical development here, Israelis now have eyes on the ridge screening Kussiema itself.  Right away they have eyes on the back two objective hexes for off-board Israeli 155mm batteries, including a line of sight on the Egyptian 25-pounders in the backfield.  Turn 8: Critical development here, Israelis now have eyes on the ridge screening Kussiema itself. Right away they have eyes on the back two objective hexes for off-board Israeli 155mm batteries, including a line of sight on the Egyptian 25-pounders in the backfield.
Turn 9: Egyptian artillery is toast, victim of Israeli counterbattery fire from 15 miles away. The objective hex on the Nakhle road has been bombarded as well, but the Egyptian rifle platoon holding his hex has rallied after being pinned.  Meanwhile, Israeli tanks are positively leveling Kussiema in their attempts to blast their way in.  However, thos Czech 107mm recoilless rifles are knocking out occasional AMX 13 platoons or Israeli halftracks,  Turn 9: Egyptian artillery is toast, victim of Israeli counterbattery fire from 15 miles away. The objective hex on the Nakhle road has been bombarded as well, but the Egyptian rifle platoon holding his hex has rallied after being pinned. Meanwhile, Israeli tanks are positively leveling Kussiema in their attempts to blast their way in. However, thos Czech 107mm recoilless rifles are knocking out occasional AMX 13 platoons or Israeli halftracks,
Tun 10:  The Israelis actually DO WIN this game on Turn 10.  Artillery again pastes the Egyptian rifle platoon on the Nakhle road, allowing Israeli tanks to occupy it for the objective hex.  Meanwhile, another mass tank volley smashes what the Egyptians have in the central town hex of Kussiema (this was a VERY tough hex to crack, as the buildings here are concrete and not wood - adding +5 to the DF of the stack and adding +1 to any attacker's fire check (that +1 is a penalty, not a bonus).  It doesn't all go the Israelis' way, though.  Up north on the Um Katef road, Israeli tanks and halftracks try to overrun the Egyptian infantry platoon there, but their opportunity close assault actually breaks up this attack before it has a chance to go in.  Therefore, the Egyptian 17 pounder batter on the  northern  bypassed ridge has a chance to take a shot and knock down another platoon of Israeli halftracks.  Total Israeli losses are shown at the upper right.  Definitely a lot worse, almost 30% of the entire force, but we did show that the Israelis CAN win this game in 10 turns. Tun 10: The Israelis actually DO WIN this game on Turn 10. Artillery again pastes the Egyptian rifle platoon on the Nakhle road, allowing Israeli tanks to occupy it for the objective hex. Meanwhile, another mass tank volley smashes what the Egyptians have in the central town hex of Kussiema (this was a VERY tough hex to crack, as the buildings here are concrete and not wood - adding +5 to the DF of the stack and adding +1 to any attacker's fire check (that +1 is a penalty, not a bonus). It doesn't all go the Israelis' way, though. Up north on the Um Katef road, Israeli tanks and halftracks try to overrun the Egyptian infantry platoon there, but their opportunity close assault actually breaks up this attack before it has a chance to go in. Therefore, the Egyptian 17 pounder batter on the northern bypassed ridge has a chance to take a shot and knock down another platoon of Israeli halftracks. Total Israeli losses are shown at the upper right. Definitely a lot worse, almost 30% of the entire force, but we did show that the Israelis CAN win this game in 10 turns.

So is the game balanced?  Eh … technically yes.  I mean, I’ve been playing The Arab Israeli Wars on and off for almost 30 years, and I designed this scenario, and I played it once already, and I got some very hot rolls for the Israelis.  And even with all those advantages, I barely got the required 4 objective hexes in 10  turns.

So honestly, against players of equal experience, I would probably give the Israelis 12 turns instead of 10.  Maybe a few additional IPs for the Egyptians.

But all in all, this is a solid design.  Ready for the portfolio!  😀

Arab-Israeli Wars - 1956 Sinai War

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 6
2 Comments

Just a quick battle report for a Weekend Web Wargame between myself and community member @Damon.  Using Avalon Hill’s The Arab Israeli Wars, we tried a home-built scenario depicting the opening day of Israel’s ground offensive of the 1956 Sinai War.

Using web conferencing and shared desktop, we were able to play across the ocean in real time, with each player moving their own pieces and always seeing the same board.

The Arab Israeli Wars is a command-tactical level game, where each piece is not an individual but a unit.  This allows wargames of the proper scale, ranges, timescales, and “tactical geometries” – without playing on a golf course or a tennis court.  😀

Some very quick background, showing the overall thrusts of the largest Israeli series of offensives at the outset of the 1956 War.  The main assualt launched by 10th Brigade is breaking down to the north.  The Some very quick background, showing the overall thrusts of the largest Israeli series of offensives at the outset of the 1956 War. The main assualt launched by 10th Brigade is breaking down to the north. The "supporting flank attack" of 4th Brigade is having more success in the south. So now high command has thrown in the 7th Armored Brigade to support, and the 4th Brigade's assault is now the main attack!
Here is the whole map, with elements of the Egyptian 6th Brigade / 3rd Division set up in defense of the roads leading from border outboast of Jebel Sabah, through Kussiema, then around to the flank and rear of the main Egyptian positions in this area like Abu Agheila and Um Katef.  This battle at Kussiema is important because the it will allow flanking attacks on Abu Agheila and Um Katef.  These main positions must be broken and these roads to the west opened in order for Israeli ground forces to reach paratroopers already dropped at Mitla Pass.  SO THERE ARE FIVE OBJECTIVE HEXES marked with yellow Here is the whole map, with elements of the Egyptian 6th Brigade / 3rd Division set up in defense of the roads leading from border outboast of Jebel Sabah, through Kussiema, then around to the flank and rear of the main Egyptian positions in this area like Abu Agheila and Um Katef. This battle at Kussiema is important because the it will allow flanking attacks on Abu Agheila and Um Katef. These main positions must be broken and these roads to the west opened in order for Israeli ground forces to reach paratroopers already dropped at Mitla Pass. SO THERE ARE FIVE OBJECTIVE HEXES marked with yellow "target" icons. Damon's Israelis are tasked to take at least four of them (thus opening at least one of the two roads off the west end of the board) by the end of Turn 10.
The game begins.  Damon comes on from the northeast, immediately assaulting my Egyptian National Guard border boards (with Czech 107mm recoilless rifles) at the border outboast at Jebel Sabha.  My counterfire knocks out one platoon of Isreali armored infantry, but that's it.  Already the Isrealis have a foothold in the town.  No worries, I certainly didn't expect this town to hold, this is a The game begins. Damon comes on from the northeast, immediately assaulting my Egyptian National Guard border boards (with Czech 107mm recoilless rifles) at the border outboast at Jebel Sabha. My counterfire knocks out one platoon of Isreali armored infantry, but that's it. Already the Isrealis have a foothold in the town. No worries, I certainly didn't expect this town to hold, this is a "speed bump" before Damon reaches my actual positions.
Further south, the M1 and M50 Shermans of 7th Armored are trundling toward my Archer tank destroyers of the 78th AT Artillery Battery.Further south, the M1 and M50 Shermans of 7th Armored are trundling toward my Archer tank destroyers of the 78th AT Artillery Battery.
After a couple of turns, actually at least one more turn that I though, Jebel Sabha has fallen and the Isrealis have regrouped for a continued push southwest toward the outskirts of Kussiema.  Here, I have 17 pounder AT guns, Egyptian Army infantry (no more National Border Guards), 25 pounder artillery, more Czech 107s, minefields, blocks, improved positions, etc.  It's not a terribly big position (and Damon has three batteries of off-board 155mm howitzers which which he can play After a couple of turns, actually at least one more turn that I though, Jebel Sabha has fallen and the Isrealis have regrouped for a continued push southwest toward the outskirts of Kussiema. Here, I have 17 pounder AT guns, Egyptian Army infantry (no more National Border Guards), 25 pounder artillery, more Czech 107s, minefields, blocks, improved positions, etc. It's not a terribly big position (and Damon has three batteries of off-board 155mm howitzers which which he can play "finger of God" on the table), but again, for the Egyptians in 1956, it's all about playing for time.
The 7th Armored hesitates for a bit before the 17 pounders of my Archer tank destroyers, deployed hull-down on the reverse slope of that desert ridge.  However, a hail of 155mm HE comes down, knocks out two of the Archers platoons, and finally 30 Shermans sally forth to engage the Archers.  A third platoon is quickly pinned, and the fourth runs for its like back to eastern Kussiema.  Next turn the Shermans will handily mop up this platoon of Archers, leaving fifteen of them well and truly REKKED on the ridge, without the loss of a single Israeli tank.  Combined arms, baby!  The 7th Armored hesitates for a bit before the 17 pounders of my Archer tank destroyers, deployed hull-down on the reverse slope of that desert ridge. However, a hail of 155mm HE comes down, knocks out two of the Archers platoons, and finally 30 Shermans sally forth to engage the Archers. A third platoon is quickly pinned, and the fourth runs for its like back to eastern Kussiema. Next turn the Shermans will handily mop up this platoon of Archers, leaving fifteen of them well and truly REKKED on the ridge, without the loss of a single Israeli tank. Combined arms, baby!
The 7th Armoured begins to apply pressure from the southeast, while 4th Infantry (reinforced with a MG platoon, engineers, and some of the 7th Armored's tanks) comes down from the northeast against 6th Brigade's main line of resistance.The 7th Armoured begins to apply pressure from the southeast, while 4th Infantry (reinforced with a MG platoon, engineers, and some of the 7th Armored's tanks) comes down from the northeast against 6th Brigade's main line of resistance.
Contact is made and, man, things get messy fast.  The Israelis are killing Egyptian infantry platoons well enough, but I have additional security and engineer units stacked up in secondary positions that can take their place, assuming I don't lose the whole objective hex AT ONCE so Damon has a chance to occupy it.  I'm losing men fast, but perhaps more importantly, Damon is losing TIME.Contact is made and, man, things get messy fast. The Israelis are killing Egyptian infantry platoons well enough, but I have additional security and engineer units stacked up in secondary positions that can take their place, assuming I don't lose the whole objective hex AT ONCE so Damon has a chance to occupy it. I'm losing men fast, but perhaps more importantly, Damon is losing TIME.
Casualties continue to mount on both sides, probably at a 3:1 ratio between the Egyptians and Israelis.  But I'm out of reserves here, and this second objective hex is about to fall.  And on top of all that, this position has also been outflanked on both wings by Israeli tanks.Casualties continue to mount on both sides, probably at a 3:1 ratio between the Egyptians and Israelis. But I'm out of reserves here, and this second objective hex is about to fall. And on top of all that, this position has also been outflanked on both wings by Israeli tanks.
The end of Turn 09, and pretty much the final state of the game.  The game is an Egyptian victory, with only two of the required four objective hexes even assaulted, let alone taken.  The end of Turn 09, and pretty much the final state of the game. The game is an Egyptian victory, with only two of the required four objective hexes even assaulted, let alone taken.

So that’s the game.  To be honest, I’m going to re-run this solitaire to see if I gave the Israelis enough time.  I have a sneaking suspicion the game length should be increased to 12 turns.  But even with 12 turns Damon would have not been able to take a third objective hex, much less fourth.

I probably won’t put up a FULL battle report for this solitaire game, but maybe an update.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in joining in these web weekend wargames, we have people from three continents participating in a regular basis!  Just drop me a PM and we’ll add you to the web conference!

Arab-Israeli Wars LIVE in 30 minutes

Tutoring 3
Skill 5
Idea 5
No Comments

Israeli Assault on Kussiema – southern shoulder of the Abu Agheila “hedgehog.”  October, 1956.

System: Arab-Israeli Wars (Avalon Hill)

Players: @oriskany and @damon

Ping me a PM if you’d like a link to this web conference.  😀  Hang out and chat, or check out a great game in progress!

Arab-Israeli Wars LIVE in 30 minutes

Getting set for 1956 Arab-Israeli Wars Game

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 5
2 Comments

Sunday we have an Arab-Israeli Wars game set up, recreating part of the opening Israeli drive against the southern wing of the Abu Agheila “hedgehog”  (Egyptian 6th Brigade / 3rd Infantry Division).  This was part of the opening of Operation Kadhesh, undertaken in conjunction with French paratroopers and British Royal Marines at the Suez Canal (Operation Musketeer) in response to Egyptian President Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal.

The game is scheduled live for 5PM GMT / 12 Noon EST between myself and @damon.

Interested in joining in or checking it out, just chatting with some hard-core wargamers?  Ping me with a PM and I’ll send a web address for our web conference.

Getting set for 1956 Arab-Israeli Wars Game

Wargames on the Web

Tutoring 2
Skill 3
Idea 5
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Good afternoon, everyone ~

As usual, I’m sending an announcement / query to anyone who might be interested in either playing in or spectating a live wargaming web conference this weekend (Jan 26-27).

If memory serves, we’ll be running the rest of Andrew’s Eastern Front PanzerBlitz game this weekend (January 26-27).

Meanwhile, we also have:

Options:
Darkstar (anyone who’s interested, please let me know what faction, and what day works better for you).
Valor & Victory Vietnam
Arab Israeli Wars 1956-67-73
Panzer Leader (WW2 Eastern, Western, or Desert front)

Saturday 5PM GMT
Sunday 5PM GMT

Summary:
The more information I get from everyone the better on how I can plan the weekend. Also, please remember that I have to build these scenarios and send out the files, so if you are interested in trying something out, welcome aboard and let me know as soon as you can!

Brucelea v. Oriskany - PanzerBlitz Ostfront 1943 (p2)

Tutoring 7
Skill 7
Idea 7
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 6
Skill 6
Idea 7
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 4
Skill 7
Idea 7
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 5
Skill 5
Idea 6
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 7
Skill 7
Idea 8
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 6
Skill 6
Idea 6
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 5
Skill 6
Idea 6
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 8
Skill 8
Idea 9
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 7
Skill 7
Idea 9
No Comments

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 4
Skill 5
Idea 7
No Comments

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 6
Skill 5
Idea 6
No Comments

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 5
Skill 5
Idea 5
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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 4
Skill 6
Idea 4
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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 4
Skill 6
Idea 5
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 6
Skill 7
Idea 5
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 5
Skill 6
Idea 7
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 7
Skill 5
Idea 8
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 7
Skill 6
Idea 8
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 6
Skill 6
Idea 7
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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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