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Monday, May 23, 2016

Team Yankee : A Bedtime Story

By Brian Sherry

Ah, the 1980s.  The time of my youth.  Who can forget Red Dawn, Rambo, The Day After, Reagan, Andropov (who?) and Star Wars (both kinds)?  Well, I can't and having had a father in the National Guard and an unhealthy (and continuing!) obsession with military topics, I was fascinated by the prospect of WWIII and a war with the Soviet Union.

 My father set the tone by telling me in the early 80s that, if they so chose, the Soviets could be in France and on the English channel in 3 days.  He told me his 13F MOS (Forward Observer) had a very short life expectancy if the balloon went up.  I was terrified and fascinated by the Soviet war machine and its weapons like the Hind-D, as well as our own wonder weapons like the AH-64 Apache and the Stinger missile. 
Fast forward approximately 30 years approximately 30 years later and one of my favorite games, Flames of War, has reincarnated into a new version called Team Yankee. 

 Based on the book by Harold Coyle, Team Yankee is a miniatures game of the mid-80s Cold War gone hot.  Seeing the fantastic models and reading the rulebook (filled of course with gorgeous pictures of said models on great gaming tables) I was hooked.  I quickly obtained starter-sized armies for both sides (okay maybe a bit bigger than starter-sized) and got painting in a frenzy. 
Due to family and other demands, I don't get to game as often as I would like these days.  Luckily I do have a rather agreeable game room and a good supply of 15mm terrain.  I was able to play a small game with a buddy but that was before I had painted anything.  So, in order to get my teeth into the Team Yankee system with all my shiny new toys, I decided to play a decent-sized solo game. 
The scenario I chose was "Dust Up" which consists of a meeting engagement between the two forces, with reserves potentially arriving from Turn 3.  Each side had two objectives in their deployment zones, and the zones were diagonally opposite halves of the board along the long table edge.  The combatants can achieve victory if either side suffers a morale failure, or seizes control of an objective in their opponent's deployment zone. 
To keep the game reasonably short, as I was playing later in the evening, I made two approximately 75-point forces.  I am still learning the game, so I apologize for any rules errors in advance.

1x M1 Command tank
2x 2 M1 platoon
2x 2 M1 platoon
2x Mech Inf Platoon with M113, 8 teams per platoon with law and dragon
2x VADS M113
2x ITV M113
2x Cobra Helicopter
2x A-10 Warthog flight

1x Command T-72
7x T-72 Company
6x T-72 Company
1x BMP Command w Ak47 team
4x BMP with 4 AK 47 team and 3 RPG-7 team
2x Gopher SA-13
2x Mi-24 Hind Helicopter

Each side had to hold half their units in delayed reserve.  The Soviets deployed their larger T-72 company and the Hinds, along with the force commander tank. 

Across town, the M1s set up behind buildings, and the VADS deploy to cover them from air threats.

Two VADS lurk in the tree line, and one platoon of infantry occupy the church and nearby buildings. 

US Turn 1: 
As attacker, the US goes first.  They advance and the Abrams destroy a T-72 at long range.  
USSR Turn 1: 
The T-72s advance accompanied by a Hind.
A second Hind moves to threaten the flank of the Abrams.  (On reconsideration, I don't think I can split my aircraft this way by the rules.)
Soviet moves.
The Hind missiles fails to hit, but a volley of fire from the T-72 eliminate one M1 at range.
US Turn 2: 
The VADS advance to bring a Hind into range.  The M1s maneuver to engage more of the T-72s.  The radar-guided VADS Vulcan guns make short work of one Hind.

The M1s also destroy two more T-72s...

Then scoot behind cover using the new "Shoot and Scoot" order, which allows units that did not move in the move phase to move in the assault phase by passing a command check.

 Soviet Turn 2: 
 Meanwhile, the M113s try to sneak over to the other flank, only to meet Mr. Hind.
The M113s learn quickly that the front line of a modern battlefield is no place for an APC, getting shot up by the Hind and the T-72s.
US Turn 3:
Reinforcements fail to arrive.  The VADS move out to challenge the last Hind.  They fail to bring it down, however.

The M1's redeploy to deal with the advancing T-72's. M1's in Team Yankee suffer no penalty for firing at long range thanks to laser targeting, and no penalty for moving and shooting thanks to advanced stabilizers. 

Two more T-72s explode as precise US tank gunnery takes its toll. 

Soviet Turn 3: 
No Soviets reinforcements show up, either.  The T-72s move to neutralize the VADS menacing the Hind.

The Hind lines up a missile shot on the US command tank...

and scores a kill!

From Russia, with love!

 T-72s fire at the VADS platoon and scratch one.  The survivor passes his morale check.  In Team Yankee, a tank or aircraft unit is in "good spirits" if it has two runners or more.  Infantry need three or more living teams.  If not, a morale check is in order.  If a force has no units in "good spirits" it takes formation morale checks. 

The aluminum armor, it does nothing!

US Turn 4:         

M1s advance into town and fire on the T-72s at close range.  Two more fall to the American ace tankers. 

"Take that, Ivan!  One for the Gipper!"

Soviet Turn 4:                   

Still no reinforcements, comrades?  Nyet!!
With only two runners left, the tank company retreats  to guard the closest Soviet objective.  The Hind maneuvers for another missile shot...

...and bags another kill!  Get that man a vodka!

US Turn 5:                     

  Here comes the Air Cav!  America, Heck yeah!

Oh, but the Air Force is not quite ready.  The "dining facility" is evidently serving filet mignon.  It's a man's life in the USAF.   

The Cobras target the Hind with their chin guns.  BRRAAP!  A few rounds make it through the Hind's sturdy armor, but none affect vital systems.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

 The M1s maneuver for keyhole shots on the remaining T-72s.

Can you see him between the buildings?  No? Well I have thermal sights and a laser rangefinder, chump!  *BOOM*  Uh, Smitty you just hit the building.  "FUDGE!!"

Soviet Turn 5: 
Comrades, did someone say reinforcements???  Da!  Did we mention we are really good at tank production?

Also, we have AA vehicles.  But, they cannot move and fire.  Please to wait one turn.

Massed T-72 fire takes out another Abrams, leaving only one remaining.  But he passes his morale check and fights on!

Now, you might think that the ace Hind pilot with 3 kills under his belt has seen the best of his luck already, right.   WRONG!  See this firepower roll?

Well, with that roll Mr. "Hero of the Soviet Union" hits and downs not one, but two Cobras in a single volley of his chin MG.

ZA RODINU!  Buddabuddabudda!

US Turn 6: 
ITVs finally show up, but they are probably way too late to be much use.

 As does another mechanized infantry platoon.

But not the USAF!  I heard there was a special sale at the Air Force PX.

The brave VADS crew advances to hunt down the Hind...but misses completely.

The lone M1 stares down the opposition.  Takes a shot, misses, and..

...scoots behind cover. 

Soviet Turn 6:  BMPs arrive and advance line abreast with the T-72 company.

The Hind hunts the last M1, but misses.  His finger trigger must be worn out from all that shooting.

The BMPs clear their 30mm cannons, incidentally wasting the last VADS.

US Turn 7: 
The brave remaining M1 relocates to defend the objective, but fails to scratch any more Ivans.

The ITVs both bog down trying to cross the river. 

A-10s finally arrive!  They move to finish off the T-72s and possibly give the mech. infantry a shot at snatching the far Soviet objective.

The brave APCs advance to the swamp edge.

And now, finally, witness the awesome power of the US Air...

...Uh oh...

BLAM!  One A-10 splashed by the SA-13s.  It's really not the US's day.

However, the surviving pilot puts a Maverick missile into the side of a T-72 in revenge.  The last tank remaining on the objective is the formation commander.

BMPs ford the river, losing a comrade to the mud, while the T-72s concentrate fire on the M1.

Hind Ace also chips in...

...but he misses once more, leaving the T-72s to rack up the kill.  With that, the US concedes the battle and withdraws to the second line of defenses.

US infantry pile out of the buildings to surrender, rather than face annihilation.

An overview of the final dispositions and the carnage.

Now, did someone say vodka, comrades?

Soviet victory, 5-2.  The Soviets lost 7 T-72 tanks and 1 Hind helicopter.  The US lost 5 M1 tanks, 2 VADS M113s, 2 Cobra helicopters, and 1 A-10 strike craft.  The Americans suffered from some bad shooting dice and some very bad reinforcement rolls, as well as uncooperative A-10s. Conversely, the Soviets had some stellar dice and timely reinforcements.  "Man of the Match" has to go to the Mi-24 that destroyed 2 Abrams, 2 Cobras and an M113 while surviving some serious VADS and Cobra AA attention.
Conclusions:  Well, I certainly enjoyed the game.  These are some very nice toys, and FOW is a proven game system which Team Yankee takes in a slightly different direction.  TY speeds up a lot of the areas that bogged down FOW.  The increased speed of the modern vehicles makes it easy to traverse the battlefield quickly and the improved technology means tanks like the M1 remain deadly on the move.  I think the two sides are well matched.  The US has a qualitative edge but an quantitative disadvantage.  Neither side seems overpowered and the Soviet kit is not portrayed as garbage.  I do think aircraft might be a little under-gunned.  For example, the A-10s depleted uranium shells are not likely to destroy a Soviet tank. In addition, strike aircraft only come in to play 50% of the time on average, making them a points gamble.  Dedicated AA are also very, very deadly to aircraft.  I also can see how this game could be hard to play at higher point levels on a standard 6x4 board.  The tanks are just larger than their WWII predecessors and at 15mm scale can fill the board quickly.  This undercuts somewhat the emphasis on maneuver the games weapon ranges and movement speeds allows.  I understand 100 points is the standard size for a 6 x 4 table so I will have to play a few more games to see if that feels crowded or about right.  75 points felt fine to me.
Bottom line: I am enjoying the system, and I encourage you all to check it out if you have a hankering to fight the war that never was, except in our feverish 1980s imaginations!

 Note from the Editor
As Brian states at the beginning of the article, he is still learning the Team Yankee system.  There are a couple of mistakes with interpretations of a couple of rules and we ask your patience and understanding with these as we are still learning this new system ourselves.  Regardless this is a fantastic battle report and hope you all enjoy.

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