Friday, January 29, 2016


Last weekend was that time of year here in Australia when our largest gaming convention, CANCON, is run. I always look forward to seeing all the demonstration and competition games and spending plenty of money with the traders.

For my contribution, I wanted to put on a 3mm participation/demonstration game this year. So that's what we did - with the help of gaming mates John and Tony, we put on two days worth of 3mm Fistful of TOWs goodness. Unfortunately my good mate Ray that I usually run these things with had to pull out of attending this year just before the event.

Some photos of the packed gaming halls are below:

CANCON is held at the Show-grounds in Canberra.
This photo shows the  main hall at CANCON 2016 (there is another one, almost as large)
Looking to the right from our game's location.

...and looking to the left at some of the traders.

For the participation game itself the scenarios had to be relatively straight forward, of a manageable size whilst teaching newcomers, and also leave plenty of capacity to talk to members of the public and answer their questions.

With the recent hype of the Team Yankee game recently released by Battlefront, I thought we could ride its wave of popularity and utilize the setting for our scenarios. Having re-read the novel just recently during the Christmas holidays, I chose two of the actions that were at a level suitable for the FFT rules:
  • Day One (Saturday) would be "the First Day" battle from the Team Yankee novel. The US 3/78 Mechanised Infantry Battalion (including Team Yankee) defends against a Soviet Assault.
  • Day Two (Sunday) would be the Advance of 3/78 Mech towards the village of Korberg, and a Soviet Counterattack against the flank of the US advance.
These were used as the basis for the scenarios, however some artistic license was used to try and balance the scenarios in terms of the FFT system. More detail on each scenario is included in the description of the two days gaming, below.

Saturday - First Day scenario:

The scenario duration is 10 turns.

The 3/78 Mech battalion may deploy anywhere in the western half of the table.
They must stop a Soviet breakthrough, earning 1 VP per turn, after the 6th turn, without any Soviet units exiting the W table edge.

The Soviet 279 Motor Rifle Regiment enters from the E table edge, and gains 1 VP per unit exited from the W table edge.

US 3/78 Infantry Battalion:

Team Yankee (Tank-heavy CT) -
  • 2x M1 platoons, 1x M113 Mech Inf platoon, 1x M-901 ITV pl.
Team Bravo (Mech-heavy CT) -
  • 1x M1 platoon, 2x M113 Mech Inf platoons
Charlie Company (Mech Company) -
  • 3x M113 Mech Inf platoons
Delta Company (Mech Company) -
  • 3x M113 Mech Inf platoons
Battalion Assets (can be allocated to any of the Companies, or retained separately) -
  • M106 (107mm Mortar) Platoon,
  • 2x M-901 ITV platoons,
  • 2x M3 Recon Stands 
Allocated support -
  • M109 (155mm SP) Battalion in Dedicated Support
  • M109 (155mm SP) Battalion in Direct Support (-1 to availability)
  • A-10 Flight (2 turns duration)

Soviet 279 Motor Rifle Regiment:

1 MR Battalion:
  • 9x BTR-70 Mech Inf pl, 3x T-62 pl, 1x 120mm Mortar Pl, 1x AT Pl (Sagger/SPG-9)
2 MR Battalion:
  • 9x BTR-70 Mech Inf pl, 3x T-62 pl, 1x 120mm Mortar Pl, 1x AT Pl (Sagger/SPG-9)
3 MR Battalion:
  • 9x BTR-70 Mech Inf pl, 3x T-62 pl, 1x 120mm Mortar Pl, 1x AT Pl (Sagger/SPG-9)
Regimental Assets:
  • AA Coy (1x ZSU-23/4, 1x SA-8)
  • AT Coy (2x BRDM/AT5)
  • Recon Coy (2x BRDM)
Allocated support -
  • Divisional Tank Battalion: 7x T-64B
  • Two turns of pre-planned support from Divisional Artillery (each 3x Bn of 2S3 (152mm SP)
  • Regimental 2S1 battalion (122mm SP) in Dedicated Support
  • Mi-24 Hind flight (2 turns duration)

The Day One battlefield - viewed from the South.
The US battalion could deploy on the W half of the table,
the Soviets entering anywhere along the E table edge.

US Battalion Recce (M3s) occupy forward positions, in woods...

... and in the village.

The remainder of the battle-group occupied positions
on the rear of the ridgeline, or behind the ridgeline.

Team Yankee, behind the ridgeline in the centre.

C Company moves up to the edge of the wooded ridgeline, to observe the Soviet advance.

The Soviet 3rd MR Battalion is spotted in the S.
Lead elements are engaged by the US Artillery.

The Soviets tried to apply pressure along the whole frontage of the thinly spread US Battalion.
This photo is a wider view of the 3rd MRB in the S, plus 2nd MRB further N
and 1st MRB furthest north. 

Closer view of Soviet 1st MRB, advancing in column in the N.

The US commander (John) realises the Soviet Anti-Aircraft company has not yet appeared on-table
and calls on a flight of A-10s. Their target is the 3rd MRB, advancing in column on the S flank.

With no local AA assets, the A-10s fly in low from the W,
strafing and bombing down the length of the Soviet columns.

With predictable results!! More than half of 3rd MRB is destroyed immediately,
the remainder of the battalion panics and withdraws (failed unit Quality Check)

The Soviets press their attack, however.
1st and 2nd MRB advance steadily further N. And the Soviet commander pushes
the attached Divisional Independent Tank Battalion (T-64Bs) through the wreckage of 3rd MRB
and advances rapidly in the S. 

In the N, 1st MRB comes under long range fire from the M-901 ITOW vehicles.

The T-64B battalion advances in the S...

... but is hit with heavy US artillery fire.

A wider view.
The US companies have moved up onto the wooded ridgeline in the W. 

US Team Bravo engaged the 2nd MRB in the Soviet centre.
The leading company of T-62s (attached to 2nd MRB) loses a Platoon.

Casualties mounted for the T-64Bs when Team Yankee engaged the battalion with their M1s and attached M901s.

Casualties mounted for Soviet 1st MRB in the N too.

The US troops are now all in strong defensive positions on the wooded ridgeline.
This is Team Bravo's position.

C Company.

D Company.

On the Soviet N flank, T-62s attached to 1st battalion take up overwatch positions in the tree-line.
Unfortunately for the Soviets, casualties continued to escalate. Faced with the US 3/78 Mech Battalion fully intact and in strong defensive positions, the Soviet MR Regiment withdrew to lick its wounds.

This was a very tough battle for the Soviets. Due to the time limit, they had to attack quickly and try to break through, which meant they could do little manoeuvre and had to attack the strong US position frontally. Perhaps it could be done better if played again - maybe with a deep, echeloned, attack against only one flank, instead of an attack on a broad front? One thing that the Soviets would definitely do is ensure their Air Defence assets travel well forward, to assist in the protection of the the lead elements.

Funnily enough, the outcome reflected what occurred in the Team Yankee novel, with the Soviets being smashed by the US Battle-group. The only difference was that the initial Soviet artillery barrage failed to inflict any casualties (due to the US reverse-slope deployment), whereas in the novel one of the US Infantry Companies was virtually wiped out by a heavy initial barrage.

Sunday - Attack on Korberg scenario:

The scenario duration is 8 turns.

The 3/78 Mech battalion enters from the S table edge. They must capture and hold the town of Korberg by the end of turn 8.

Korberg is occupied by a Soviet MR Company (3x BMP-1 MR Platoons) at the start of the game. The Soviet Tank Regiment (-) enters from the E and/or W table edge, and must stop the US troops from occupying Korberg.

US 3/78 Infantry Battalion:

As per the ORBAT for the First Day scenario, but substitute the following 'allocated support':
  • M109 (155mm SP) Battalion in Dedicated Support,
  • AH-1 Cobra flight.
Soviet Tank Regiment (-):

2x Tank Battalions -
  • each 7x T80

Allocated support -
  • 2S1 (122mm SP) Artillery Battalion in Direct Support,
  • Mi-24 Hind flight
  • Su-27 flight (2 turns duration)

The Day Two battlefield (view from the N). US are advancing from the S.
The village of Korberg dominating the corridor of advance is the US objective.
Korberg is occupied by a Motor Rifle Company, with BMP-1s.

The US Battalion Commander (Tony) decided to use shock-action and advance rapidly on Korberg, using the main road.
In column here are a platoon from the Battalion Recon (leading), followed by D Company, Team Yankee, and the battalion Mortar Platoon bringing up the rear. 

Team Bravo was on the left flank of the advance (W).

And C Company on the right flank (E).

Team Bravo is bombarded by Soviet Artillery...

Both platoons of M113s are destroyed, and the M1s pinned.
The Infantry from one platoon managed to dismount from their burning vehicles!

Bad news for US 3/98 Infantry!
A battalion of Soviet T-80s appears on their W flank.

The T-80s are taken under fire by US artillery.

And the US commander brings on a Flight of Cobra gunships to cover his advance.

3/78 Infantry advances. C Company spreads out on the E flank,
and Team Yankee leaves the road column to also push forward to the E of the road.

Team Yankee pushes through C Company in the E,
assuming the attack on Korberg.

D Company spreads out, straddling the road.

The surviving tank platoon from Team Bravo gets into a gunnery duel with the T-80s,
destroying two platoons at close range.

Team Yankee comes under artillery fire as they approach Korberg.

More bad news for 3/78 Infantry!
A second battalion of T-80s appears on their right flank (E) as well.
The T-80s take up positions in cover along the edge of the woods. 

view from the Soviet lines in the E.
C Company are well and truly in their sights!

Dog-fighting choppers!
The Soviets bring on their own helicopters, a flight of Mi-24 Hinds.
The Hinds get in behind the US Cobras and fire their cannons, but to no effect.

a T-80 company pushes forward and fires into the rear of the unsuspecting Team Yankee
(top right of picture) as they approach Korberg, destroying a platoon of M1s.

Burning M113s riddle the valley, as Soviet T-80s engage them from both flanks.
C and D Companies were both destroyed. 

C Company in flames...

The M1 platoon from Team Bravo was also destroyed, despite a heroic effort.

Team Yankee pushes on into Korberg!
The surviving M1 platoon moves around to the E of Korberg and destroys a MR Platoon and its BMP-1s.
The Infantry platoon dismounts their M113s and assault into Korberg.

The US Cobras move to engage the T-80s on the E flank.

But the T-80s push forward to finish 3/78 Infantry off.

Despite the heroic Team Yankee reaching Korberg, the rest of the US battalion has crumbled
(failed force morale) and Team Yankee must withdraw.
In a reversal of the previous day's battle, this one was an ugly battle for the US troops. Again, it was a tough scenario for the attacking side. However, in retrospect the US battalion could have advanced a little more cautiously initially, keeping tanks and/or M-901s in overwatch to prevent interference by counterattacking Soviet troops.  Also, keeping the force a little more compact and mutually supporting may have prevented some of the casualties?

In any case, the result was a heavy defeat for the US Battalion that had inflicted such a heavy defeat on the Soviet MR Regiment only the day before. The 3/78 Infantry Battalion would not be taking any further part in the coming actions of the Third World War.

Across the two scenarios, the attacking forces were destroyed almost totally. I'm sure there is something in this! To me, the scenarios reinforced some commonly accepted tactical principles; the strength of defence in the first battle, and the benefit of surprise and concentration of force in the second scenario. They have certainly provoked some thinking about how future attackers in our games might 'crack the nut' of attacking?!

From the perspective of the demo/participation game, it was successful. Plenty of people had showed interest in the scale and the period, asked a lot of questions, and given us positive feedback over the CANCON weekend. We got a few players involved as participants too. So objective achieved.