Monday, July 23, 2018

Team Yankee 6mm at WINTERCON 2018



This past weekend Canberra, Australia was host to the annual WINTERCON convention; the mid-year little brother of CANCON (which is run in January). The convention was well attended again this year, and good fun.

Background:

Our gaming group this year opted for a demo/participation game of Team Yankee in 6mm. The general concept was to get away from the gamier aspects of TY by using doctrinal organisations and scenarios (instead of points based and the game scenarios). We played an escalating scenario over the course of the two days, on a large (8’x6’ playing surface), based on doctrinal organisations on both sides (US and Soviet). The sequence of events was to be (in broad terms) a Soviet BTR Motor Rifle Regiment (MRR) advance in a sector defended by a US Mech Infantry Battalion with some cross-attached tanks. The phases would play out something like:
  • (1) Initial (Soviet) recon
  • (2) Vanguard MR Coy attack on Security Position (US Platoon)
  • (3) Advance Guard (MR Bn-) vs US Company Position
  • (4) MR Regt(-) vs US Bn(-). 
Phases 1-3 were to be played on Saturday and phase 4 on Sunday.

As well as using doctrinal groupings and scenarios, for recent TY games, we’ve discussed and tested some concepts to tweak the rules to better reflect reality and also go well with the scenarios. Rather than writing completely new add on rules, we figured the easiest way is to utilise existing rules mechanisms to achieve effects we were after. Below is how we treat them:

House Rules:


‘Overwatch’ or ‘Opportunity-Fire’ Mechanism:
  • The method of implementing ‘Overwatch Fire’ is to extend the existing “Shooting at Aircraft in the Enemy Turn” rules to ALL stands. This means that non-guided weapons can choose to shoot at enemy stands in the attacker’s turn before the attacker stands fire. But the defender stands are then marked and cannot:
    • shoot in defensive fire in the assault step, or
    • shoot in their own shooting step next turn, or 
    • assault in the assault step next turn. 
  • This is an easy way to implement a form of ‘overwatch’ fire. But like AA fire, there is a real tactical trade off choice to be made. However it can offer an advantage if used well, and stops enemy driving past defending troops with impunity.
Hidden Deployment: 
  • The method of implementing ‘Hidden deployment’ without complex map-deployment is that Defenders can utilise the scenario special “Ambush” deployment rule for ALL stands. 
  • Use of recon is therefore important for the attacker to detect, or limit the deployment opportunities for (ie. Clear or deny), hidden enemy positions. 
  • This is a simple way of allowing defenders to deploy hidden, does not require complex ‘spotting’ rules, and encourages use of recon and forward tactical groupings’ movement to shoot revealed stands firing in the attacker’s turn (from the rule above).
Soviet Briefing:

Deployment:
  • All forces enter from the E table edge (bottom of picture)
Mission:
  • exit at least one combat-effective battalion off the opposite table edge (W table edge).
Forces and schedule (note: surviving forces from earlier groupings remain on table):
  • T1+: Regimental Recon Company enters
    • CHQ Recon BRDM-2, Recon Platoon 3x BMP-2, Recon Platoon 3x BRDM-2)
  • T3+: Vanguard company:
    • Full BTR MR Company,
    • Tank Platoon of 4x T-72,
    • Battalion Mortar Company of 6x 120mm Mortars (off table counts as 2S1))
  • T7+: Advance Guard MRB(-):
    • 2x full BTR MR Company (BTR) each with Tank Platoon of 4x T72,
    • 3x ZSU-23-4 Shilka SPAA,
    • Battalion Mortars continue,
    • plus Regimental SPG Battery of 6x 2S1 Carnation (off table)
  • T12+: Regiment Main Body; MRR(-):
    • Two BTR MR Battalions: each with:
      • 3x full BTR MR Company (BTR),
      • Tank Company of 12x T72,
      • Battalion Mortars (6x 120mm Mortars)
    • plus Regimental SPG Battery of 6x 2S1 Carnation (off table) continues.
    • Add an additional 2S1 Battery (6x SPGs)
    • Regimental Support Companies:
      • SAM Platoon: 3x SA-9 SAM,
      • AT Company: 6x BRDM-2 Spandrel ATGM
US Briefing:



Deployment:
  • All on-table forces may deploy using Ambush deployment
  • Any infantry may deploy in foxholes and gone to ground
  • May place 3x ranged in markers (represents pre-registered targets)
  • Battalion Security positions (Platoon from Charlie Company, plus Battalion Recon Platoon) may deploy anywhere on table.
  • Battalion forward defence position (Charlie Company(-)) may deploy anywhere up to ¾ from W edge (US baseline)
  • Battalion Main defence position (Delta Company, plus Combat Team Bravo) May deploy anywhere up to halfway from W edge (US baseline)
  • Battalion reserves (Combat Team Yankee) enter from W edge from turn 12, or N or S flank from turn 15 (pick an edge).
Mission:
  • Prevent Soviet penetration to the W within the battalion defensive sector boundaries (ie. Prevent exit from the W edge)
Forces and Schedule:
  • T1+ (all use Ambush deployment):
    • Battalion Mortars (6x M106) available
    • Battalion Security Positions; Mech Platoon (from C Company), Bn Recon Platoon (three sections of 2x M113)
    • C Company(-) Forward Defense position: Mech Company HQ, 2x Mech Platoon, ITOW section (2x M901), FIST
    • D Company (Main Defense position): Mech Company HQ, 3x Mech Platoon ITOW Section (2x M901), FIST
    • CT Bravo (main Defense position): Mech Company HQ, 3x Mech Platoon, ITOW Section (2x M901), Tank Platoon (4x M1), FIST
    • CT Yankee (Reserves, from T12): Tank Company HQ (2x M1), 2x Tank Platoon (4x M1), Mech Platoon, ITOW Section (2x M901), FIST
  • T4+: Battery of 6x M109 155mm SPG (one FASCAM mission from T8+)
  • T12+: additional Battery of 6x M109 155mm SPG
The Game:

The game played out beautifully:
  1. The US deployed their security forces well forward, 2x Scout Sections in the NE and a dug in Mech Platoon in the SE.
  2. The Soviet Recon company identified both security positions by receiving fire and being destroyed. In the process, the US scouts took casualties and withdrew.
  3. The Soviet Vanguard Company came on in T3.
  4. From T4, the Vanguard MRC called Battalion Mortar fire and assaulted the Mech Platoon position. The Defending US platoon called their own battalion mortars on the assaulting Soviet MRC. The US Platoon security position was largely destroyed by fire and assault, and survivors withdrew to the SW to the village.
  5. From T7, the Advance Guard Battalion(-) entered and quickly pushed a company (with tank platoon) up each flank. These advanced, taking some casualties but also revealing US Platoon positions in the US Forward Defense Company zone. ITOW sections inflicted some casualties, but artillery and mortars on both sides inflicted constant low levels of attrition. Over five turns, they advanced and destroyed or pushed back the Charlie Company platoons, advancing as far as the village in the N and the autobahn bridge over the stream in the S. Casualties made the Soviet Advance Guard MRB largely combat ineffective by T12, however they were still holding advanced positions and had cleared 2/3 of the table.
  6. From T12, The Soviet MRR main body road marched rapidly from NE to SW along the autobahn and secondary roads. They paid heavily in casualties from Artillery and Mortars, including a FASCAM mission onto the autobahn. By turn 14, the Soviet MRR we’re forward in numbers, but the tank heavy CT Yankee (with 10x M1 to add to the 2x M1 surviving from CT Bravo), plus an extra M109 Battery, had enough combat power to halt the Soviet Regiment’s penetration in this sector.
The game was a US Minor win, but casualties had been very high on both sides in this brutal action:
  • All three MRBs of the Soviet MRR were largely combat ineffective and would have to be withdrawn from the line of battle (many more where they came from!!)
  • The US Mech Battalion had lost a platoon of M1s, three of the four M901 sections of the AT Platoon, the Scout Platoon, several FIST teams, and two and a half Mech Infantry companies.
  • Assuming each game turn represents approximately 15 minutes of real world time (which was my planning figure for working out when things would arrive from the order of march), then the US Mech battalion had held and fought against a Regiment for over four hours. Good effort.
Overall, the doctrinal units and scenario worked really well. Likewise, the house rules worked well and really captured a fog of war feel (through Defender ambush deployment), cut and thrust (through using recon and forward elements for locating and clearing enemy positions), and tactical dilemma (of whether to hold fire or not when enemy were moving). The tweaks gave the still very simple TY system a much more historical feel in my opinion.

Some photos from the game follow:

The Battlefield - view from the Eastern (Soviet) edge.

Soviet Recon Platoon scouts the SE wooded ridge line 

And another Recon Platoon scouts the NE wooded hill

View from the Western (US edge)

First US infantry are spotted in the trees

Then a whole platoon's worth of infantry in foxholes

US infantry platoon security position (dug in)

M113s are with them too

The BRDM2 platoon takes some withering fire and is destroyed. US forward positions located though!

The NE position was occupied only by some US scout sections.


Turn 3 the Soviet Vanguard company enters, dismounts in the woods and prepares to assault the US security platoon


Their BTR60s provide fire support from the fields

Company heavy weapons squads sit back and pour on the fire also

T72 platoon supported the BMP Recon Platoon in the N.

Soviet Mortars range in and start a slow trickle of casualties

The Soviet MR Company assault goes in

US Mortars, artillery, Dragon ATGM and LAWs cause casualties on the assaulting MR Company.

The Soviet Vanguard captured the US security position. 
The US Mech platoon survivors withdrew to the village to their west.

Tanks move up to protect the Vanguard's flank

The Vanguard consolidates

US commanders Chris ad John line up the artillery template. 
Artillery from both sides caused a steady stream of attrition against their enemies.

US Artillery ranges in on the advancing Soviet infantry

The Vanguard's tank platoon starts to take some casualties from unmasked M901 ITOW launchers at long range

The Vanguard company pushes the advantage and moves to flush the retreating US infantry out of the village

View from the NE

US scout M113

The ITOW section shooting at the distant T72s 

The other two companies of the Advance Guard MR Battalion enter, one on the right (N)...

...and one following the success of the Vanguard company on the left (S)



Advancing MR company and tanks

Infantry dismount

Soviets press the attack

The remnants of the vanguard reach the autobahn crossroads halfway down the table.

The crew pondering their moves. 
From L to R: US commanders Chris & John, and Soviet commanders Shaun and Pete

yours truly was the umpire and scenario writer/controller

MR company hits another dug in mech platoon on the N flank

And the other MR company advances to the crossroads on the left flank (S)

Overview at this stage (about turn 7 or 8). Soviet companies press down both flanks

until another US mech platoon fires from their position covering the Autobahn bridge in the S

And another Platoon position in the centre.

Tanks and BTRs advance


First sighting of US tanks. 
This is the tank platoon from CT Bravo on the US main defensive position.

Tanks and ITOWs from CT Bravo with sweeping views of the battlefield from hull down positions

Another ITOW position in the S

The Soviet MR company hits the intersection and all hell breaks loose!
Artillery, ITOWs, Dragons, LAWs and M1 gunnery pounds them...

Heavy casualties!

But the Soviet MR infantry push forward through the woods and across the stream

Close up of ITOWs

ITOWs and M1s in the woods on the ridgeline on the US defensive position

MR Regiment main body arrives!!
Two MR Battalions with Tank companies attached are ready to enter.

The advance guard battalion continues the fight at the forward edge of the battle...

MR battalion advances at speed down the autobahn,
previously cleared by the vanguard and advance guard

Two M1s fail to 'shoot & scoot' and pay the price from T72 fire.

The other two get down behind the ridgeline

ITOWs continue the fight

Overview from the US lines. 
Soviet MRR main body enters at top of picture.

The MRR Main Body continues the advance

The other battalion takes the secondary dirt road further to the N.

...snaking along the dirt road in column


The MRR Main body advances rapidly, but suffered heavily from massed US artillery.

Soviet artillery smoke screen covers the advance, but not well enough. FASCAM is dropped on the autobahn, causing casualties and delaying the advancing MR battalion in the US killing ground.

The crew still rolling dice on turn 15. Soon after this we determined that the entering tank-heavy CT Yankee and additional US artillery had enough combat power to halt the depleted Soviet Regiment. It had been an epic battle though!


17 comments:

  1. Mate ... great write up. Looking forward to the next run.

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  2. Excellent report and ideas. Love the opportunity fire rules. I have always felt TY suffered badly from the lack of this rule, plus the unrealistic command distances when applied to 15mm models. The system works more realistically with 6mm. Great plan, great terrain, great ideas! Why no airpower or helos? Awesome job guys! Mitch

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    1. Why no AirPower or helos? There’s two reasons I used to justify that:
      1) I was using doctrinal organisations and what I consider ‘realistic’ levels of support, based on my experience. I didn’t envisage this sector as a ‘main effort’ for either side, so they got no air support! All that was allocated elsewhere...
      2) I am a subscriber of the theory that western AirPower has been dominant in several wars since WW2 because they were insurgencies, with no real air defence threat. In the Western Europe Cold War scenario, both sides were likely to rapidly deplete their air assets against each other, but more importantly against the abundant Air Defence assets in the theatre. I figured the Soviet Regiment would be under the umbrella of Divisional and Army level air defence assets, sitting some tens of kilometres back from the battlefield.
      That’s my logic anyway. Plus I wanted to see the ground fight play out!

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    2. Thanks. I was just curious. It would be interesting to see what an airpower "force multiplier" would have on the same scenario. I think your ground fight was great. I have toyed with a similar overwatch rule, but never got a chance to use it. Nice to see it works well, as Chris below mentions. Great job guys. I shared this page with a friend and now he is interested in 6mm TY! Lol. Mitch

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  3. A great two days! The overwatch rules worked brilliantly, but as Bish mentioned if not used wel at the right time was costly. On one occasion we (US) used it to pre-empt a Soviet assault, needed to score 8 hits to pin them before they could move in or fail and suffer no defensive fire. It (just) worked! And in addition because we couldn't now shoot in our turn we used it as our 'clean break' to withdraw not in contact. I felt this was quite a realistic tactic for the Bn security position PL

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  4. Another question regarding morale. I assume the TY morale rules were used as written, so were US companies the "formation" and Soviet battalions the formation? Were any formations and/or units lost due to failed morale? Thanks, Mitch

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    Replies
    1. Looking at the force organisation and the forces on table, I'd hazard a guess that the formations were downsized to US Platoons and Soviet Companies. A Soviet Battalion at 1:1 would be a hefty thing to move around the table!

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    2. Hi Ben - They are indeed 1:1 scale. They used a full motorized rifle regiment with its supporting tank battalion and its artillery off-board. Having been a former armor officer in the 80's, they did a great job in capturing the doctrine and TO&E.

      Mitch

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    3. Ben, yes we used the TY morale rules as written. The US companies and Soviet Battalions were ‘formations’.

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    4. ...and yes, the forces were all at 1:1. Each Soviet company for example had 12-14 BTRs, plus its attached 4-tank platoon. So each battalion was about 40 BTRs, plus a company of 13 tanks (Soviet MRR tank battalions had three 4-tank platoons plus the HQ tank). In the photo of the first of the MRR Main Body Battalions entering along the autobahn, you can see all the vehicles in the battalion (there is also the Regimental ATGW company of 6x Spandrel BRDMs with it).

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. Spectacular stuff! The arrival of the Main Body looks very sobering!

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  7. That is a nice looking 6mm table!

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  8. Bish,

    Wow, just saw this, an amazing fight on a great looking table. Absolutely amazing!

    V/R,
    Jack

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