Monday, September 19, 2016

Aegean Strike part one - Disaster in the Balkans

On Saturday morning I drove over to Broughton, near Chester, for the Cold War Commanders' weekend event Aegean Strike.  The weekend was two days of 6mm scale gaming of World War 3 in the Balkans in 1985.

I took along my long-owned but never used Spanish Marine Brigade (Tercio de Armada).  It was always going to be a chancy pick.  With a force consisting of two light infantry battalions and three outdated tanks (M48A3Es) I only really stood a chance if I found myself up against a Bulgarian Motor Rifle Regiment in a built up area.  Sadly this was not to be.

In fact, Saturday was pretty dispiriting from start to finish. On arrival I was informed that the Mistral SAMs I'd spent ages sourcing (and in a couple of cases scratch-building) were out of period!  I then found myself in an encounter battle over more of less open ground with only a couple of small woods (too small for a deployed battalion) as cover.  There was some built up area on the table centreline and whoever got there first would inevitably dominate the game.

Our sector - but missing 15cm or so of open ground from
baseline to woods
Hastily selecting about 3000 points from my whole force, I found that my opponent Steve was using units from a Soviet Tank Regiment (I think) in T-62Es, some of them armed with the latest in through-the-barrel ATGMs.  I was in trouble!

Steve went first and rolled really well with his command dice.  Before my Marines were even on the table he was deploying into the centre-line built up area.
Steve's BTRs have reached the middle of the table already!
On my first game turn a blunder by my neighbour (Hi Neil!) saw two of my units, including my only ATGWs (a Dragon and a Landrover-mounted TOW)  hit by friendly fire.  The TOW was immediately eliminated and the Dragon was suppressed!

The one chink of light came when I rolled double ones when calling in an air-strike.  I got a "broken arrow" - all the aircraft from five draws from the support deck!  I actually got two Tornados, four A10s, two Phantoms and an F-5 Tiger.  Sadly, we were playing the rules incorrectly, it later turned out, and the strike had virtually no lasting effect!

My first two Marine companies deployed to the only cover available - the woods on my right flank.  Sportingly, Steve sent his tanks forward into range of my C-90 infantry anti-tank weapons.  These proved ineffective and an attempt at close assaulting the tanks foundered on my inability to roll dice decently.

The Marine battalion was pretty quickly at half strength, whist my tank company found itself swamped by T-62s.

When it became apparent that I was rapidly losing the battle (and, personally, the will to continue) Umpire Richard P allocated me a battalion of US Marines and a tank battalion in M60A1s to arrive on my baseline by mobile deployment.

Unfortunately my die rolling got no better.  Half the tank battalion arrived and took up firing positions from just ahead of the baseline.  There seemed no reason for them to go further as there were plenty of T-62s already at close range.  Sadly the next command roll (to fire) was a blunder and half of the newly arrived tanks pulled back off table and were lost.  The other half of the tank battalion, some recon elements, and a Marine infantry battalion all failed their rolls to enter scoring 10, 10 and 11!

At this point I'd had more than enough.  I decided not to prolong the inevitable and started to withdraw.  Even that I couldn't do.  With Soviet artillery raining down most of my remaining infantry was pinned as the enemy tanks approached.

In consultation with the Umpires we decided to close down the sector and plan something else for the morrow.


Andrew Canham said...

That's some bad luck. I'm not sure if those US marines aren't cursed though. They were the ones gassed in Norway as they were all bunched up in the beachhead outside Bodo.

Glad to hear you're on the case with improvements to the house rules for bigger games. We got through a lot more turns through the umpires controlling reserves, feeding them into the battle gradually.

Cheers, Andy

Richard Naylor said...

Sounds like you needed to be dug in and hidden so the Russians would have to come find you. You probably could also of done with a few minefields to slow the Russian advance and give you time to manoeuvre against their flanks.

I had similar problems with the USMC once under a different rules set. They landed on the beach took some casualties, blundered their morale test and promptly went home!

Richard N

dylan said...

Ah the frustration of the CWC command system!

Yes I believe in the "friction" of war, but a couple of bad rolls in CWC can completely ruin a gaming day.

Counterpane said...

Thanks, guys, your sympathy is appreciated.