NATO forces had been taking a pounding in the north, from the relentless march of the WarPact forces. But in the Hof Corridor, an opportunity arouse for NATO forces to strike a path directly to Berlin. In the darkness just before dawn an American combined Armour and Infantry task force moved towards Leipzig and encountered a tank heavy East German brigade, who were reinforcing the area. Both sides were unprepared for such an early encounter, as lead elements clashed and trailing forces rushed to join the fight.
As the defender, Leadgend chose to counterattack and rolled up an Encounter mission. Of course, playing a US force, I rolled on the weather table and was lucky enough to get Dawn. With the 18 unit "Wall of Stuff", as we call the East German hoard, coming on, I was happy with any advantage I could get, and night fighting proved vital.
As is standard, we placed objectives in each others deployment zone as far apart as possible. I placed one infantry unit of each objective, and one armoured unit next to each infantry unit. Leadgend put an infantry unit and 2 T72 units on my right flank, and the bulk of his force one my left flank. He used a recce platoon to spearhead his larger infantry unit halfway up the table, within about 2 turns away from the objective I was defending.
I took the first turn, dug in one infantry platoon but failed with the other. My supporting M113s crested a hill and were my only unit able to spot anything in the darkness. Some sporadic shooting from them took out one infantry stand.
For Leadgend's first turn he moved all of his tanks forward across the table while his infantry and scout units charged forward. Some autocannon fire damaged my M113s who subsequently routed.
I knew I had to make the most of the night and hit the East Germans hard, while weathering the return fire. I moved my left flank Abrams up to the hill crest my infantry were defending, but they could only see the enemy infantry in the darkness, so I unloaded MG ammunition into them. Leadgend's saving rolls were awful and he lost quite a few infantry stands. My infantry added to the hail of fire and also destroyed and bailed the East German recce unit. I moved my right flank Abrams up a hill in the centre of the table, and from there destroyed 4 BMP-2s and bailed another.
Leadgend then charged his BMP-1s forward to support his infantry, and put his two tank units into a column to navigate the terrain and shoot up at my Abrams on the hill crest. He also blitzed his BMP-2s to crest their own hill. On my right, his tanks continued to roll cautiously forward. The combination of night and tough American armour resulted in only 1 Abrams being bailed out and 1 of my infantry stands lost. Of course, that Abrams remained bailed out for another 2 turns before it was finally destroyed.
On turn three I committed my Abrams HQ to the right flank but otherwise held my existing position. One unit of ITVs came in from reserve, and after failing to blitz they took up concealed positions near a patch of trees. Since this could've been the last turn of night I decided to hold tight and blaze away with everything I had. Surprisingly, my infantry on the right knocked out a T72 with a Dragon AT missile and my Abrams commander destroyed 2 of the central T72s. On the left, my infantry and tanks were able to destroy and bail out a total of 3 BMP-1s, 4 BMP-2s, and 3 T72s. An excellent result.
As usual, the East German troops plowed on without batting an eyelid. On the left some of his infantry occupied a small building new my objective, while his BMP-1s charged forward followed by a unit of T72s. The other T72 unit in the area took up a hill crest position. In the middle, one operational T72 moved up to flank my central Abrams, while on the right his tanks returned fire and the infantry moved up into some woods. But once again the night proved too difficult, and the net result of a lot of shooting was 2 bailed Abrams and one incapacitated Dragon team.
On my 4th turn the night fighting came to an end as dawn broke. Lucky for me, the East Germans had already taken a lot of casualties. Two of my three bailed out Abrams remounted, and I reversed my central tanks off their hill to face the flanking opponent. My Abrams HQ moved forward to hit the rear of the lone T72 in the centre. I had another good round of shooting which left none of Leadgend's tank formation units in good spirits. With their commander gone, the formation on the left automatically routed, while the formation on the right failed to motivate and also routed. Although this only resulted in 3 tanks withdrawing, it also prevented 2 units of T-55s from joining the battle since they hadn't yet arrived from reserve. It was devastating blow to Leadgend's game plans.
With the destruction of the BMP-2s as well, Leadgend had very few units left that could hurt my Abrams. Over the next 2 turns he was able to destroy one Abrams tank, the ITV unit, and finally route my left flank infantry unit.
My M163 AA unit arrived on table and harassed his right flank infantry. There was blood lost on both sides, but no conclusion before we called an end to the game.
The result was a 5-2 win for me.
Dawn is miraculous! When facing such a large force, you need time to whittle away your opponent and night goes a long way to keeping your forces alive so that you can do that. Also, the limited dash speeds prevented the hoards from flanking my units too early.
Leadgend's spearhead move was quite worrying since it brought his infantry so close, but I was very lucky to be able to knock out so many of them early on. It would've been a very different game if his infantry saving rolls had've been closer to average and those infantry could've kept coming. I think that having to contend with all that infantry and all the tanks and BMPs would've been too much otherwise.
I'm not sure what I would do differently next time, but I know that I don't make enough use of my formation commanders and orders in general. I should've seen how Leadgend was deploying and positioned my infantry commander on the left to help that infantry unit there dig in and motivate. Fortunately, the hill crest positions provided concealment and bullet proof cover from anything in front of them.
In the end it was a great game against a great opponent with plenty of tense moments on both sides.