So I finally (!) got my home game room and game table together enough to pull out all of the terrain and set up games at the house! My son Sean had wanted to play for a while, so I sat down and busted out as many Americans I could during the morning and early afternoon (even raiding some kits I'd originally picked up during the big Viet Nam sale a while back), found a few likely Flames of War infantry stands I could use as proxies, and then went about getting the board ready. He's played Warhammer 40K, but he thought this looked fun as well... and he's been obsessed with McPizza King since I showed him the PDF with the signs. So we set up the board, with McPizza King front and center and went from there! We played No Retreat because it has the Deep Reserves rule, limiting how many tanks I could put on the table on the first turn.
So - on with the show!!!
After several days continuous fighting around Leipzig, that theater has been passed to other forces and we've been recommitted to fighting in the Ruhr. I hope this drive will force the surrender of the West German puppet state allowing us to unite Germany once more in the cause of international socialism, but honestly I'd settle for a few days leave at this point!
We've been advancing quickly in this area, and I secured a small town between Münster and Duisburg with a minimal force as most of the armor and the reconnaissance platoon probe along our axis of advance. All of the road signs in the region have all been knocked down to confuse our advance, and all of the documents in the town hall were burned and the computers erased before we arrived. I set up a temporary command at a small farm at the edge of town near an old rail station. The rail station looks serviceable and may be of some military value. The capitalist overlord of the town also had a horde of wine and other valuables. I have the approaches to the rail yard mined - including both sides of the petrol station (drained dry - we already checked) and the parking lot of the McPizza King (still in operation - despite all stories to the contrary, the pepperoni poppers are actually quite good).
My force has been supplemented by a battery of Hail missile launchers. These are modernized versions of the Stalinorgel used by the Red Army during the last war. I'm not sure how much value they'll be, but I was ordered to bring them along during this advance, and I am a loyal soldier. If nothing else, I can have the crews guard the wine cellar.
I soon receive reports of an American probing attack - armor and mechanized infantry at the very least, and they'll be here before dawn! What I wouldn't give for a few of those American thermal imaging systems at this point!
The reconnaissance platoon indicates that this is a new American commander who has bloodied the nose of a few units in the area, and looks to push our forces out of town before we can consolidate. At least I know we currently enjoy local air superiority so I won't have those blasted helicopters to contend with!
Given the darkness I deploy my forces carefully so I don't present bright targets for the Americans. I don't want my force destroyed before I even see the enemy! I get in my panzer and join first company's T-72 tanks behind a small wood near the farm at the edge of town. I assign the Shilka battery and Hail battery to guard the decadent manor home. My 2S1 artillery battery is covering the approaches to the rail yard, and I've sent the Spandrel launchers forward in hopes they can find a good spot to launch a surprise attack.
My observers report movement in the south end of town. Armor, mechanized infantry, and armored artillery. Looks like he's come prepared. Hopefully his artillery doesn't have any of those blasted heavy anti-tank rounds. His forces are too far away to reliably target at night, so now we play the waiting game, I work to make sure my panzers can cut off his if he makes a run for the rail yard.
Through the inky blackness it is hard to see what the Americans have planned. It appears that their mechanized infantry in their APCs are simply strolling through the middle of town! What do they have planned? I have reports of American heavy tanks on both the left and right flanks. I can't guard everything with the meager force I have available to me now! The Shilka and Hail batteries won't survive direct American armored attack. I radio 2nd and 3rd companies along with the T55 group, they are on their way, but through the dark they aren't making good time.
I can now see the Americans, and they are incredibly close! They have already broken into the rail station grounds, completely bypassing the minefields around the petrol station. The enemy APCs have pulled up to the old church to the north of the town - it looks like they may begin occupying it. Tanks are also closing in on the manor house, if the others don't arrive soon, it is going to be too late! Before I can order my panzers forward, two enemy panzers open fire on the 2S1 that had been observing out of the woods, obliterating it in an instant. The light of the pyre creates eerie shadows in the forest and railroad yard, I know I must close on the railroad yard, and hope that the others can hold off the enemy tanks near the manor. The Spandrels radio and indicate they have a firing solution on the enemy panzers near the manor. I order them to engage as 1st company moves up to cover the rail yard.
The American infantry begins to take up positions just as first company's T-72 panzers reach the rail yard. They're playing hide and seek with the American panzers, but Schultz's tank peeks out for a moment too long and is destroyed by incoming American fire. With the American mechanized infantry in the church behind first company, and the American tanks just on the other side of the railroad building, they are in position to be enveloped quickly. I franticly radio to all incoming forces to move forward with all speed, else we'll be forced to withdraw!
The situation on the opposite flank is equally dire, American panzers have entered the woods near the manor house and are attacking the Shilka battery. Uncharacteristically, their gunfire is inaccurate and only one vehicle is lost.
Then over the radio I hear the most welcome news ever! Second and third companies, along with the first company of T-55 panzers have reached the area! Now we'll see how these Americans deal with the weight of righteous steel!
Despite these new reinforcements, we still find ourselves at a tactical disadvantage. I order first company to turn to face the American infantry in the church, as their anti-tank missiles will murder our T-72s from the rear. I order 2nd company to cover the rear flank of first company, while third company begins to engage the Americans near the manor. I order the first company of T55 panzers to deploy center as the battlefield is suddenly quite crowded and friendly fire is a real concern. That way they can react a crisis on either flank, and they can begin to engage the Americans inside the church.
The American APCs begin to shoot their machine guns at the Spandrels, damaging one, but the remaining spandrels continue to fire, without effect, at the American tanks. One American tank on near the manor is hit, but the fire appears to have been ineffective as it quickly rights itself. The Shilka battery destroys a couple of APCs, but are in turn quickly reduced by the American tanks with the remaining gun fleeing to the rear.
The 2nd and 3rd T-55 companies and the reconnaissance platoon radio in and report that they have nearly reached the operational area as well. This bodes well for our chances, but I don't want to underestimate the Americans. They are using terrain and concealment well, and although it is now daylight, that helps them in cover as they can move with near impunity in the woods!
Third company manages to knock out an American panzer, but the other retreats further into the woods and opens fire on the recently arrived company of T-55 tanks, destroying one and damaging a second. Its commander reports that they may be out of action for some time! Near the rail station, it is a stalemate as both sides jockey for position. I begin to move my tanks closer to get out of range of those damnable American hand-held anti-tank missiles!
We finally manage to destroy the American panzer threatening the manor house, but the American infantry destroys the spandrel launchers at the edge of the wood. Between the BRDM armored cars and a company of T55s, we have the American infantry pinned down in the church. I order third company's T72s to come around and flank the American panzers, however just as they get into position two are struck and destroyed. The enemy observer vehicle had cunningly maneuvered into a position where it could sight his artillery, and they fired their laser guided munitions. Their observer was clearly quite skilled, as soon thereafter two more T-72s were lost in an effort to relieve the infantry in the church.
At this point I've had nearly two full companies of T-72s wrecked. Second company had already succumbed to enemy fire, but the enemy command tank and one of his first platoon tanks had been taken out leaving only one. We engaged in a battle of maneuver with successive waves of T-72 and T-55 tanks dueling with the nimble American beast. If I couldn't destroy him, I was going to push him far enough back to secure the area.
Though they put up a tough fight, ultimately the infantry in the church and buildings are effectively wiped out. No one is firing anymore, and we'll move in and pick up the wounded as prisoners. At this point, the American force pulls back, but yet again the cost has been extremely high. We are once more victorious, but if we continue to take these loses, we'll make no further gains!!!
First and foremost my son had a great time playing the game, and I think I may have him hooked. I'll likely be building / painting the forces for a while, but seems like I'll be able to get in a few games at home going forward. The other thing that amazed me was that he was good! He had an intuitive grasp of where his guys needed to be and what they could do. He had me in a real bind early in the game with my tanks stuck between his Dragon missile launchers and his Abrams. If I had only gotten one unit of reserves that turn, I would have had to have made a really tough choice on where it would go given he was threatening both objectives.
I've also pretty much decided that infantry is a must going forward. Sure, I can get the job done with my tanks, but they're a hammer... a blunt instrument... and they can beat through just about anything if they can get there, but it isn't a clean job by any stretch of the imagination. So now I'm going to focus on getting those finished up... of course, then I'll have to work up "real" infantry for my son as well.
So in honor of the weapon system that nearly cost me two companies of T-72s - here's a short video on the Copperhead...