Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Defense of Rastiland!

'We're going to defend Rastiland?!?! The dinosaur-themed adventure park?!?!?'
'You've GOT to be kidding!!!'

Soviet intercept of conversation  among British troops serving in the British Army of the Rhine.

And so it was, after getting bludgeoned at the battle of Schloss Marienburg, and then utterly failing to stem the Soviet advance across the river Leine at Teufelsberg (see earlier posts), NATO finally managed to stop the red army. At Rastiland, of all places.

In game terms, I was just looking for somewhere west of Teufelsberg where we could hold the next round of the Soviet invasion of Germany. Given the poor record of defense from the Germans in the prior two games (with relatively reduced assets, as they were fighting the commie hordes), I was looking at a more balanced game. That would require British assistance, as I simply hadn't got enough German troops to muster more than 5000 points or so.

The grande vision of 8000-9000 points per side was whittled down upon realization that would be tough to fit into one day, especially since we were both a bit rusty with the rules. I was going to go for 6000, and tried, but then to get all the fun toys on the table really couldn't get it less than 7000, even a little higher. And that left one of the Phantoms out of the game.

I was worried that Howard would arrive with 6000 points, and the game wouldn't be quite so balanced, and was relieved to hear afterward that he also had a little over 7000...

Home rules we decided to play were, since the Germans were on the run, they would have supply problems. On a roll of 1-2 on a d10 they would be out of supply (marked with a token), and unable to move or shoot until resupplied (a supply truck, only 1!, makes base-base contact for 1 turn). This would have little impact on the game.

To simulate command/control problems among allies, if any British or German unit strayed into the others zone of control (just drawing line to line among units), then both commands would suffer a -1 penalty on command throws. Doubling the chances of a command blunder (not statistically, given 2 d6), and eliminating the chance of a command bonus. This would be irrelevant for the game as keeping British and German units separate was not an issue at all.

The game began with a tie over control of the skies, which would be important as it cancelled out an airstrike from howard and negate 
any p
ossible NATO airstrikes. Howard advanced onto the table, well actually he laid everything nicely out on the table to organize it first, and then advanced on with his mobile infantry quickly occupying the town of Mehle (far right corner from NATO) and his armor coming on along the edge of the hilled woods. That deployment would be very interesting later in the game!

Howard lays the commies out on the table. German Leopards behind the hedge in front of the picture on left.

A slightly better view of the commies.
The NATO defense was set with the German Leopards in a hedge between Rastiland and Sehlde, and the infantry occuppying Sehlde. Actually, it was their Marder carriers occuppying Sehlde, with the infantry behind the town awaiting an airlift to be dropped somewhere up the table. Like next to the wooded hills, by the dirt road. Right in front of where the Soviet armor had deployed...!

My assumption was the Soviets would have moved from the back edge of the table, at least by turn 3 when the German air assault went in. Little did I know -

The German defense obviously left most of their left side of the table open, but that was for the British to handle, rushing in to fill the gaps as they were intended. Their armor would occupy Rastiland (it wasn't intended to be an actually defensible position, rather just a silly spot on the table, but it worked!)

That left the far left of the NATO lines open, but the British still had their infantry (no carriers, arriving by helicopter). I decided with the better command values for the British that they could choose to air assault into a location as needed, the far left, or hopefully somewhere more useful.

The Soviets started with a couple of Hind attacks on the Leopards, firing through the hedges, before the Leopards have been softened up by anything.

The Leopards were unfazed, but started to feel the heat once the Soviet armor opened up from the woods on the left (coloured smoke representing suppression, not so bad in itself, the Soviet armor on the edge of the wooded hills in the back).

The British get to move, and the air assault goes in on the left, very well masked from the Soviet armor. And also not too far, and conveniently right next to the Soviet forward air controller! (The little jeep on the right of the mess in the woods, ignore the helicopters in the back, they weren't part of the game. Or would they be???)

NATO didn't have much else to do, well anything else to do in the first turn. So over to the commies. Who come in with another Hind attack, this time looking for something easier than Leopards in cover. The problem being, the Germans didn't want to expose anything else before assistance arrived from the British. There were troops occupying Sehlde, but they were to the rear, the infantry actually behind the town, their carriers in the town but off the front edge. Leaving only the forward air controller and forward artillery observer...

Focus on the German defense in Sehlde. The FAO and FAC in the corner of the town closest to the Hinds and also a Frogfoot...

The Hind strike goes in -
There was also supposed to be an airstrike from a Frogfoot, but things got weird, as we found in the rules that even scheduled airstrikes (everything being scheduled so far) were supposed to roll for deviation from the FAC. The FAC was quite far away (next to where the British air assault had just gone in...!), so that meant quite a bit of deviation, putting the Frogfoot off target to the west, the bombs falling on an empty field and the Frogfoot exposed to quite a bit of antiaircraft fire from surrounding hq units and also the German Roland SAM... which all missed of course.

A following scheduled artillery strike on Sehlde didn't miss, however, with quite telling results on the Marders in town! Note the Frogfoot in the background, after (before?) missing his airstrike target.

The black smoke representing units killed. There wasn't much, if anything, left after the artillery strike...
NATO still didn't have much to do, aside from...

The German Stallions show up to pick up their cargo. Everyone being glad they were behind and not in Sehlde!
The Hinds return for another attack on the Leopards. This time, from the flank, rather than front on through the hedges. Combined with the Soviet armor shooting, it was getting pretty hot for the only bit left of the German defense! That said, I forgot the prior turn the British did manage to call an artillery strike on the Soviet infantry and transports occupying Mehle, and add direct fire from the Challengers which had shown up and taken position in Rastiland. Soviet casualties in Mehle in the back...
Things were really hotting up now. The Germans were almost completely wiped out, with little to show for it again, while the British were only just showing up. But show up they did! Artillery was called in against the infantry in Mehle the previous turn (forgot to add that...), while their infantry quickly moved into the woods, overran the commie FAC, and moved on to start close assaulting the Soviet armour.

The next turn put the onus on the Soviet armour. They were facing infantry in woods. Worse, much worse, the Soviet tanks had formed a line along the edge of the woods, which the British had taken in flank. So all the British infantry (as many as could get into the battle), taking on one commie tank at a time. It got ugly quickly...

That's a lot of smoke all over the Soviet tanks... From behind the British infantry. Smoke in the foreground mostly British hits and suppressions on Soviet tanks (a little, but only a little going the other way). Smoke in the background a plotted artillery strike to mask - the German air assault!

At the same time, the airlifted German infantry went in for their planned assault, right in front of the Soviet tanks! They had the benefit of a smokescreen, but still, there were 3-4 tanks taking easy potshots at the Stallions landing right in front of them. 1 Stallion immediately knocked out, the other suppressed, although it managed to disembark its troops, also suppressed.

The German air assault. Most of the smoke is the artillery plotted to screen the helicopters landing. Except for the one black smoke in front of the Stallion in front. That landing didn't go so well... No survivors -

Back along the heart of the British defense in Rastiland...

There are Challengers and Swingfires in there. Mortars behind too...
That was pretty much the game. 5 hours or so later, not really stopping for dinner (I boiled a couple of the frozen fresh pasta things. Frozen fresh? but excellent for a situation like this. Drop them into boiling water, and 5 minutes later you have food!)

It wasn't quite decided. The Soviets still had a decent number of tanks left, and some infantry. Unwisely, as the British infantry started to work its way through the Soviet armor, the Soviets decided to mount up their infantry which had been holing up in Mehle, and drive down to try and take Sehlde. Or just advance, or do something.

That was a bad move, as the Lynx were called in, the mortars were called in, the Challengers were opened up, and artillery was called in. I don't remember if quite all those assets were utilized, but what was left of the Mehle brigade, after the artillery bombardment it suffered earlier in the game, quickly dissolved.

That left quite a bit of Soviet armour, against a bit of British infantry, British armour, and possibly half the German infantry (if they would have been able to do anything once the smokescreen disappeared). At the least, NATO, on its third try, finally managed to stall the Soviet advance.

Extra models for eye candy. Newly painted up Hips

And a fencer

Actually, Howard had planned an air assault using the Hips, to come in somewhere around Esbeck I assume. Had the game carried on further... I don't believe that infantry would have been heavily armed (so I think I recall Howard mentioning), and they would have faced relatively fresh and untouched British forces, despite the healthy bit of action they saw...

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