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Monday, July 24, 2017

There and Back with the Volksarmee - A Historicon 2017 Team Yankee Nationals AAR

by Tom Burgess

I really wanted to get out to Fredericksburg for Historicon this year before it moved back to Lancaster, PA. - and being that this might be my last Historicon for a while, I wanted I really wanted to get the most out of it. So I signed up for the I-95 Late War Doubles, Team Yankee Nationals, and Mid War Nationals. That was going to be ten games over three days! But the focus of this AAR will be on the three games of the first ever Team Yankee Nationals.

Most of my Team Yankee "Soviet" collection was completed before I knew I could actually commit to going to Historicon. The problem was that it was mostly a T-72 collection and had not been terribly effective in any of my Team Yankee games. Turns out that a battalion of T-72s (I had 21 of them) just is not "meta." Sad face. However the Volksarmee book opened up some new options by offering a weaker, but cheaper T-72 and also expanding some cheap BRDM options in both the recon and Anti-Tank roles. Even though my force was painted as "Soviets," Volksarmee would let me use almost all of my existing collection on the table at once! But in a sense, my entire army was "proxied."

My Historicon force as designed by my friend Chris

The force I rolled out with was designed by my friend Chris as the most effective given my model collection limits. This forces was:

First Formation
BMP Mot-Schutzen Bataillon Total Points: 39 Platoons: 10
BMP Mot-Schutzen Bataillon HQ 1x Mpi KM team, 1x BMP-1 (1 point)
BMP-1 Mot-Schutzen Kompanie 4x Mpi KM team with RPG-18 anti-tank, 3x RPG-7 anti-tank team,  AGS-17 grenade launcher team, SA-14 Gremlin AA missile team, 6x BMP-1 (8 points)
BMP-2 Mot-Schutzen Kompanie 4x Mpi KM team with RPG-18 anti-tank, 3x RPG-7 anti-tank team,  AGS-17 grenade launcher team, SA-14 Gremlin AA missile team, 6x BMP-2  (12  points)
Spandrel Panzerabwehr Zug 3x Spandrel (2 points)
2S1 Carnation Artillerie Batterie 3x 251 Carnation (6 points)
SA-13 Gopher Flak Zug 4x SA-13 Gopher (4 points)
ZSU-23-4 Shilka Flak Zug 2x ZSU-23-4 Shilka (2 points)
BRDM-2 Aufklarungs Zug 2x BRDM-2 (1 point)
Spandrel Panzerabwehr Zug 3x Spandrel (2 points)
BMP-1 Observation Post 1x BMP-1 OP (1 points)

Second formation
T-72M Panzer Bataillon Total Points: 61 Platoons: 4
T-72M Panzer Bataillon HQ 1x T-72M (3 points)
T-72M Panzer Kompanie 6x T-72M (19 points)
T-72M Panzer Kompanie 6x T-72M (19 points)
T-72M Panzer Kompanie 6x T-72M (19 points)
BRDM-2 Aufklarungs Zug 2x BRDM-2 (1 point)

Charles' British pummel my forces in one of our practice games.

In the months leading up to Historicon, I was only able to get in a few games with my good friend Charles, who I could never beat! Charles has a LOT of Milan armed infantry that my forces just could never seem to get an advantage over. It was pretty depressing and I was dreading coming up against British Infantry at Historicon, but as the roster grew it was clear that West Germans were going to be the most numerous forces and I felt a good deal better about not having facing British Infantry every round.

Plan of Battle - Attack!
The Team Yankee Nationals used the "More Missions" PDF. My friend Chris, who has played much more Team Yankee than I back where he lives in Minnesota, told me to choose "Prepared Attack" fro every mission. He felt my force was big enough and quick enough to swarm any opposition. I think he generally was right, but I was going to find lines of sight and good cross-country terrain hard to come by.

Game 1

In my first game I faced a West German Panzer Company in Bridgehead. The board had a lot of terrain. Especially notable was the very large hedge/bocage pieces that basically cut the board in two.

My opponent had defended with a platoon of three Leopard 2s in ambush, a Marder platoon with dismounts on one of the objectives, mobile rockets at the ready, and then two platoons of Luchs out font to cut off my Spearhead options. In reserve he had four B105s, a HQ Leopard 2, some unneeded AAA infantry, Gepards, and Jaguars. The narrow avenues of approach let my opponent make the maxim use of scenario provided mines.

I chose to send my main effort to swing around on the left through some fields, while my BMPs and infantry pushed from the opposite side. I easily dispatched the Luchs units as I advanced forward.

Seeing my attempt to make an end-run around his right, my opponent dropped mines and forced my T-72s to change course and push through the woods. His B105s showed up, but had a limited opportunity to affect my forces with all my AAA assets hounding them.

On my right, my BMP-2 Company and Infantry quickly closed on his rocket trucks and took out these assets. His Leopard 2s ambush was forced to try to counter my secondary effort which was already on one of the objectives. Unfortunately my attempts to move through woods to bypass minefields was hampered by the fact that I kept using Soviet Cross Check ratings instead of the better East German ratings! That's what you get for Proxying!

Trying to slow down my right, my West German opponent brought out his Gepards from reserve, where they split their fire between my BMP-1s and BMP-2s. This was a mistake as neither unit would be broken and their return fire eliminated the Gepards.

AT-5 missiles and T-72 shots reduced his Leopards tow a single tank and my artillery took his infantry down to two stands. My forces were all over both objectives. My opponent was on the verge of suffering a formation check. All was looking good for me to clinch my first game but.....

I failed to use my infantry to close down the only route that my opponent's Jaguars could use to contest the right objective. All I had to do was to string some troops across the road and the game would have been mine. Instead we recorded the game as a 4-3 win for my opponent (Later I realized it was actually a 3-3 draw).

Game 2

Game 2 saw the "German Civil War" continue as I faced West Germans again. The mission this time had me attacking in No Retreat. My opponent had a Marder/Mech Companie. He started with  three Leopard 2s in ambush, Gepards, Luchs, and two Marder/Mech platoons on the board. He had B105s, M109s, and Jadgpanzer Rackettes in reserve.

I sent two T-72 Companies on the left, and one on the right. BMP-1s and both Infantry companies moved in the center to clear minefields. My AT-5s and BMP-2s held back on some high ground to provide overwatch to my moves on the left.

My opponent popped his ambush on his first turn and knocked out some T-72s, however the return fire was devastating and all three Leopard 2s were destroyed by tank cannon and missile fire.

Unfortunately I did not seem to take anymore pictures of this game. Basically my artillery had destroyed one of the West German Infantry Platoons and while my infantry cleared the minefields and opened up the avenues of approach for my armor.

As quickly as my opponent brought in his reserves, they were destroyed. He mad an attempt with a Gepard foray on my right. But this delay was momentary as BMP-1 Sagger missiles and T-72s on the right eliminated this threat.

My forces quickly closed around his last few infantry teams protecting the left objective and destroyed them, forcing a company break and earning me a 4-3 win. I had lost one T-72 company, a BRDM-2 recon unit and a BRDM/AT-5 unit.

Game 3

In game three I was fortunate to get another Red vs. Blue match. This time I was to face a US Mech M113 Company with three platoons of infantry, two sections of dual ITVs, a platoon of four M1 Abrams, four VADs, an FO M113 and finally, six M109s decked out with Minefields and Copperhead rounds. Also the force had air support from two A-10 Warthogs.

I was also lucky that we rolled up Rearguard as this meant I was to be the attacker in all three of the defensive missions (Bridgehead, No Retreat, and Rearguard). The board this time was a bit more open for lines of sight, but still had very constrained mobility avenues for my troops to push through. My opponent chose the side of the board with a prominent hill that I wanted for by BRDM-2/AT-5 and BMP 1/2 overwatch.  That was disappointing, but it also meant that anything he placed on that hill would be seen by most of my forces.

My plan was to push hard on my left with all three T-72 companies while my BMPs and BRDM-2/AT-5s shot at everything on the hill and the lower areas that I could see. 

Wisely my US opponent dropped a minefield at a key chokepoint, but I had an infantry platoon nearby just for this contingency. My overwatch elements made short work of the ITV and KO'd a M1 when they came out of ambush.  I was pushing forward pretty well until....

Copperheads! I had never faced these before and they were quite a surprise for me. Fortunately the many hedges and fields meant that the Forward Observer's LOS was hindered and my tanks were only hit half of the time.  Unfortunately, it never dawned on me to shoot the US Forward Observer to stop the rain of Copperheads. I had plenty of BMPs and BRDM-2/AT-5s that could have easily taken that unit out even with 6's or 7's being required to hit. Fortunately the Copperheads only cost me one the loss of one of my three T-72 units before they got out of LOS of the US Forward Observer.

My opponent never brought his planes on. He wanted to thin out my ample AAA assets first, but before that happened he was already required to withdraw a unit and chose those as his first withdraw.

After clearing a minefield, I kept up pressure on the left pushing hard into the US Mech platoon there with a T-72 company, a Motorized Infantry Company dismounted, my ZSU-23-4s and BRDM-2s. Eventually was able to assault with the T-72s and started rolling this unit back. My opponent was able to pull the left objective before I took it. However his attrited Mech Platoon and Formation Commander were totally surrounded and cut off from all rescue after my other T-72 company destroyed the last of the M1s.

With the demise of the HQ and that Mech Platoon, my opponent had only one other Mech Platoon left, which was on the run and being hounded by BRDM-2s and BMPs. And so I won game three on a formation break.

All and all the Team Yankee Nationals was a great time. I am so glad I was able to participate in the inaugural event. Thanks to Mitch Reed, Brian S., and Battlefront for putting on this event.  I really had not won many games of Team Yankee coming into this event but I left it wining two of three games and coming in 10th out of 42 players. If I had been paying better attention, I would have won my first game also.

I was very happy with how my forces performed. In all three games, even though the VP scores were close, I was able to destroy 70 points or so of my opponents while only losing 20-25 points of my own force. Points destroyed mattered as Tie-Breakers and I think these really helped me move up in a crowded field.

I learned a lot at this event. I learned about Copperheads, and will make the Forward Observer a priority target next time I face them. I'm looking forward to more Team Yankee games over the coming year and hope I can make it back to Historicon 2018 to improve on my mistakes.

Tom has been playing wargames since the late 70’s, and Flames of War since 2007. He maintains a gaming website for the BattleVault Gamers of Kentuckiana and posts and moderates WWPD as Iron-Tom.

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