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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Team Yankee Battle Report: West Germans Vs Soviets: No Retreat

With Ben Gobel

I didn't have to wait long after I painted up my West Germans from Leopard to use them on a table. In fact,  I flocked my infantry teams the morning of the game and the paint was still wet and we were ready to play.  Playing with me was Sean "Throckmorton" Sarah and the Brothers Gobel, Ben and Chris.  All of these guys are veteran Flames of War players and have never played Team Yankee before. Throck only played once, which was the demo game at Historicon. Throck and I made our list from two formations - the panzer and aufklarungs battalions. Team BroGo took Soviet tanks. Since my Gepards, and Rolands have not arrived, we did not allow the Soviets to have any Hinds. On the West German side, we used Marders to proxy for my Fuchs, which also have not arrived yet.

We set up the table and made up the German list first because they were lacking a few of the assets mentioned above.  We thought we settled on an 83 point list, and told the BroGos to make a list to that point total.  When Ben asked me how much the HQ tank was I said “5 points” and he assumed that each T-72 was the same cost, so he made a list that we found out afterwards was only 78 points. Hhe could have had one other T-72! It also turned out we added a two tank Leopard 1 platoon and forgot to add the points, so Team Brogo could have had a few other items as well, 11 points is a huge difference in this game.

Below is what our lists looked like.

Soviet Red Banner Tank Division
T-72 Tank Battalion HQ - 1x T-72 (5 pts)
T-72 Tank Company – 5 x T-72 (22 pts)
T-72 Tank Company- 5 x T-72 (22 pts)
T-72 Tank Company- 4 x T-72 (17 pts)
BMP-1 Motor Rifle Company - 4x AK-74 with RPG-18, 3x RPG-7, 4x BMP-1 (6 pts)
BMP-1 Recon Platoon- 2x BMP-1 (2 pts)
Carnation Platoon, 3 2S1 Carnations (5 Points)
78 Points

West German 1st Panzer Division
Formation1: Panzer Company
HQ-1x Leo2 (11 Points)
Panzer Plt  3 x Leo2 (33 Points)
Panzergrenadiers 3x Marders, 2x Milan, 3 x G3 Teams (7 Points)
Jaguar 1 (3x Jag) 6
Formation 2: Aufklarungs Company
HQ x 1 Leo1 (3 Points)
Luchs Plt 2x Luchs (1 Point)
Luchs Plt 2x Luchs (1 Point)
Panzer Plt 3x Leo1 (9 Points)
Panzer Plt 2x Leo1 (6 Points)
Fuchs Pzgrs 2 x Fuchs w 1 Milan, 3 x G3 teams (4 Points)
Attack Helicopter 2x BoH-105 (8 Points)
89 Points

We rolled up a mission and it came out to be “No Retreat”, which is a bit different that the Flames of War Version of the same name.  First of all, it starts out at night and the defender gets to place 3 minefields on the table prior to start. 

Yet another Soviet horde

West German Forces

Our Set up

Ben's Student body Left

The thing we all liked is how having recce units can expand your deployment area, both teams did that, which created a problem that we will talk about later.

Using the Deep Reserves special rule, we were able to place one Luchs platoon, the BoH-105, and the Fuchs platoon on the table. The Jaguars have the Forward Defense special rule so the Jaguars were also able to be set up on the table. We held our panzer platoon of 3 Leopard 2s in ambush. Ben played this mission as he would the FoW version and did a bum rush left with his larger T-72 unit and his infantry.  Chris took the smaller T-72 unit on the other side to prevent us from focusing on just one side of the table.

The first issue came up during set up and I don’t know if we played this wrong or if it is a hole in the rules.  We set up the minefields before the Soviets set up, but with his scouts, Team BroGo was able to expand that and was able to set up his infantry in the minefield.  So on the first turn he gave an order to clear it and the minefield went away.

It was the Soviet plan to assault the objective with infantry while his tanks pushed us away from contesting it.

The one thing I did notice as we started is remembering all of the new movement rules. It's all about learning the mechanics of a new game.  I have tried so hard not to think of Team Yankee as a FoW clone in order to embrace and learn the new rules and major differences between these two games.

I think the difference between the two systems gave Ben a hard time. On turn one, he was all over my Fuchs platoon with his infantry, thinking his assault would sweep away our small platoon.  Ben tried this every turn and could not score a hit in assault.  

We dropped our ambush during our first turn, and immediately shot up the T-72s. Even with poor rolling, I killed one and bailed one in my first volley. We also shot up Chris's force with Throck’s BoH-105s on the other side of the table.  We also got lucky on our first roll for reserves and brought on the 3 tank Leopard 1 platoon.  In fact, we were able to roll for reserves each turn, which was nice.

As Ben’s assaults were failing, our forces were taking a deadly toll on the Soviets.  A RoF of 2 on the move is a great think to have and I only really moved my Leopard 2s via movement orders. 

I also learned that tanks and woods are not the best idea.  I got 3 of my 4 Leos stuck in one “Shoot and Scoot” command, however Ben wasn’t able to exploit my failure.

From Ben
This was due to the low RoF of the Russian tanks and terrain which limited massing of those tanks.  Looking at the terrain the buildings chopped line of sight up to about 4-5 tanks max and the trees on either side of the buildings (the one in front of the objective and the one the german recce started next to) did much the same.

Ben also learned that his Carnations were not the same as FoW artillery and they did very little during the game. 

From Ben
This was partially due to some rules interpretation gone wrong, I was targeting units as center points and hitting on skill of the Carnations rather than the target teams to hit rating.  But I would still stick with the opinion that arty really is not worth the points.

The same can be said for Throck’s Luchs, they did not do much and seemed to get stuck in the woods for most of the game.

By turn 4 the game was pretty much over with many of the Soviet platoons destroyed.   They were able to knock out a platoon of Leopard 1s and HQ for the Aufklarungs Company and one Jaguar.  I can report that no Leopard 2s were harmed in the making of this game.

To borrow a line from both the Iron Duke and the book Team Yankee; “They came on in the same old way, and we sent them back in the same old way”.   In other words, they used a game plan from FoW in TY and it did not work out so well.  Their T-72 platoons were way too small - they would have been better suited in making two platoons out of their 14 tanks, having one help kill the Fuchs platoon and the other to push back anyone who planned to move forward and contest the objective. 

Another issue was taking the artillery and not taking a Shilka platoon.  For a few turns Chris’ T-72s were just sparing with the two helos which is a waste, he should have moved on the other objective and fight of the Leopard1s (with ease btw) coming in from reserve.  Team BroGo knew we had the BoH-105s, and they just ignored taking something on their list to deal with them. Ben felt the T-72s “suck” in his opinion; while they are not the best tank in the game, they are best used in mass, and now I can see the logic of the 21 tank list Luke recommended for my Soviets.  On defense, Throck and I had little to do but shoot at the T-72’s that just wanted to stay in our line of sight all game. 

From Ben:
With a tactical move of 14" of the Leopards its not a question of the T-72 staying in line of sight so much as there is nowhere for a t-72 to hide when forced to play the narrow side of the board.

So based on my latest game, I have some observations and thoughts on Team Yankee.

The biggest take away is the confirmation that Team Yankee is its own game, and while it seems like FoW, it takes a different mindset to be good at it.  It is a game where you have to really use mass or maneuver to quickly kill your enemy.  I say mass OR maneuver because the two nationalities in our game represent those two principles of warfare quite well.  The Soviets - much like real life - use mass of units to achieve their objectives. This is seen not only by the tank hordes in TY, but in FoW as well.  The Leopards, with their moving RoF, can take advantage of the movement order rules  to really bring fire on an enemy in one location. They can then reposition to being another under fire. In TY things die last, and with that your decision making has to be faster and your room for error is reduced.

This is why I love this game - it is different and it recreates the combat it is supposed to simulate well enough for me.  Yes, I have heard many say, and even I did at one time that the scale/size is off and the game is better played at 1/285 scale.  I have to say that after playing it a few times I think the scale is fine at 1/100.  Yes the smaller scale is more realistic, however would the game be as fun as it is now?  Even “Seekrieg” the most “realistic” set of naval rules in the eyes of most folks, the ships at 1/2400 are still 12 times larger than they should be, yet no one brings that up.  I tried Team Yankee at1/285, and it becomes a different game which takes longer to play and lacks the brutality and fun of the game in the larger scale. 

Another observation I made is that I am glad I did get a Soviet force to go along with the West Germans; they play so differently and are a lot of fun to play.  I think the stark difference in weapons, organization, and size of the West German’s and Soviets makes each of them play totally differently, and this is way more evident than you will ever find in FoW.  While I never have played the US or USSR in FoW, I would be comfortable playing with a list of either in a tournament because I get the concepts of the game and I can leverage the capabilities of my force to achieve my objectives.  Team Yankee destroys that paradigm because while the concepts are the same, the capabilities of each of the 3 forces are so vastly different.

Final Comments from Ben
I would say a few misplays due to FoW expectations, mission/table, and terrain, and the screw up on points were the major factor in this game.  The narrow board meant your massive maneuverability could not be countered combined with the narrow firing lanes produced by buildings keeping weight of numbers from really mattering.  The lack luster ability to remove infantry in any timely manner to push before reserves came on hurt. And the missing 9 points on the Soviet side could easily have brought the solutions the Soviets needed to swing the game, hinds to deal with the leo2s (better AT than a T72 and better capable of surviving the return fire) AA to counter the German air and a recon platoon to make the second prong of the attack much faster.

I did tell Ben that I am sorry for the points mix up and that we should have gone over the rules better before hand. 

Tip #1: Your RPG tips will break.  Use Steelstik by JB Weld to craft a new one.  Once it hardens, I will trim and paint it. 

Tip #2: Your Hind rotor blades will break, in this case I used the Plastic Weld by JB Weld to reinforce the broken blades.  Once they hardened they seemed really firm. I will sand these down and paint them too. 

I know a lot of folks are on the edge about making the plunge into Team Yankee; I would first suggest that they try it and secondly as they try it forget everything about FoW.  And lastly remember why we play these games; to have fun.

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