Monday, 6 November 2017

1985: Under an Iron Sky - "Forward, Comrades!" Campaign Playtest (T3)

Another quick update on the playtest of "Forward, Comrades!" campaign game.
The combat rules are doing a very good job at simulating the Soviet attack doctrine, with powerful armored columns attacking NATO weak points and penetrating the main defense line. 

Warsaw Pact main thrust is against NORTHAG, with a Front composed by 2nd Guards Tank Army, 3rd Shock Army, 11th Guards Army and East Germany V Military District.

Denmark surrendered after a combined landing by Soviet Paratroops and Polish Marines near Copenhagen, greatly facilitating WP advance North of Hamburg.

20th Guards Army has liberated (ahem) West Berlin and will soon move toward Hamburg to dispatch 3 West German Brigades now fortifying in the city center.

NORTHAG Situation, D+3 (Turn 3)
In the Central Front, 8th Guards Army and a stripped 1st Guards Tank Army have the task to keep US V Corps and WG III Corps busy. The plan has not been particularly successful, giving US V Corps the possibility to constitute a powerful reserve that could be used in near future for a counterattack, supported by French I and II Corps now assembling behind US VII Corps.

In the South Front, Central and South Group of Forces are pressing toward Munich, helped by Czech 1st Army and the just arrived Hungarian Army. West German II Corps is trying to districate itself from encirclement, a problem caused mainly by the "Forward Defense" policy imposed by the political leadership.

South Front Situation, D+3 (Turn 3)

Warsaw Pact losses are quite high, particularly in Mi-24 attack helicopters and Sukhoi bombers. With this attrition rate, the current level of advance may continue for 6 more days (3 Turns), before running out of gas. Therefore, a strategic breakthrough must be achieved quickly.

NATO is executing Tornado and F-111 deep strike missions against  WP airfields, rail bridges and SAM sites, with good results. Air losses seem sustainable until now, as Warsaw Pact amassed most of its air defenses on the front line to protect the advancing divisions from NATO attack helicopters. The imminent arrival of 10+ US air squadrons from CONUS should allow NATO to raise the air war stake even more during the next days.

An overview of the battlefield at D+3


Friday, 27 October 2017

1985: Under an Iron Sky - "Forward, Comrades!" Campaign Playtest

A quick update on the second run of playtest for "Forward, Comrades!" campaign game. 

The first run stopped at turn 3 and brought the introduction of "Interception Areas": mega-hexes of 61 regular hexes each used to determine the probability of intercepting an enemy Air Mission and to evade enemy interceptors.

In this second run, Warsaw Pact started hostilities at game turn 2; the main thrust is in the NORTHAG area, with 3 Armies attacking between Braunschweig and Hamburg.

NATO decided to follow the official "Forward Defense" policy and to avoid any tactical retreat whenever possible. 

Warsaw Pact's Attack Axis during Game Turn 2 (first turn of war)

NORTHAG area situation at the end of Game Turn 2

View from Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, end of Game Turn 2




Saturday, 21 October 2017

1985: Under an Iron Sky - Some countersheets

Someone asked me a preview of the countersheets.....here you will find:

  • Countersheet 2 (some US, Belgium, Canada, France, Denmark and Netherlands counters)
  • Countersheet 6 (some USSR and Poland counters)
For better viewing, click on the image and then save it on you local disk.
Enjoy!

Countersheet 2 


Countersheet 6

Monday, 9 October 2017

1985: Under an Iron Sky - Box Art

Here's the probable final version of the box art.....It also includes the logo of our newborn publishing company, "Thin Red Line Games".


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

1985: "Forward, Comrades!" Campaign Game Playtest

We are now beginning the playtest for the main "1985: Under an Iron Sky" campaign, titled "Forward, Comrades!". 

The campaign depicts the "classical" Warsaw Pact offensive in Central Europe, with a variable preparation period decided by Warsaw Pact.

As Warsaw Pact Commander I've decided to follow the good ol' John Hackett's plan: a strong attack against NORTHAG, along a Braunschweig - Hannover - Osnabrück  - Arnhem axis, followed by a conversion South in order to envelope the Ruhr area. Nothing less ambitious would be accepted by the State Committee of the State of Emergency in Moscow (My God, how did they choose such a definition?).

I'll keep preparation and build-up at a minimum (48 hours, 1 turn) and declare war on Turn 2, in order to take NATO still off-balance. Starting from turn 3, reinforcements from US and other NATO countries start arriving in Europe too fast, and for that time I want the Soviet fleet already at war and keeping NATO busy with GIUK Gap and North Atlantic lanes defense; with a bit of luck, it will slow down REFORGER long enough.

Regarding Warsaw Pact allies Mobilization, I'll see how many of them are happy about the People's War of Liberation from the Capitalist Oppression before deciding. The last thing I need is a revolt in East Germany or Poland.

I have no clue on NATO Commander's plan at the moment, but I presume he will follow the "Forward Defense" political diktat in CENTAG area, and maybe a more fluid approach in NORTHAG.

Here's some snapshots of the complete setup:

Overview - three 95x65cm maps, more or less 2000 pieces.

NORTHAG area

CENTAG area

So, it begins.

Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, ready to liberate West German Workers from their slavery.


Monday, 2 October 2017

1985: "Checkpoint Charlie" Scenario Playtest

Campaign Game playtest for "1985: Under an Iron Sky" has been slowed down by unexpected map problems, now finally fixed.

In the meantime, we've decided to playtest the quick and dirty "Checkpoint Charlie" scenario using the first printed draft of the map and the usual home-printed counters.


Scenario Introduction

Time: July 24, 1985, 0400 Zulu Time
Playing Area: Berlin and surrouding area
Length: 1 1/2 Game Turns (72 hours)

The symbolic significance of West Berlin and its strategic position along the supply routes used by the main thrust against NORTHAG does not allow Warsaw Pact planners to ignore the city, despite the considerable effort presumably needed for conquering it.

20th Guards Army is therefore ordered to dispatch the West Berlin Garrison within 72 hours, secure the area and subsequently move toward Hamburg to help the advance into the city.

NATO Garrison in Berlin has a very limited array of tactical choices. Without air support and no hope for reinforcements, the only real option is to hold fast and hope for the best.

The Battlefield

Pre-War Movements

Warsaw Pact can move all his units quite liberally, and of course 20th Guards Army surrounds West Berlin with its four Divisions and an attached East German Motorized Division. Three heavy artillery Brigades, three Mi-24 attack helicopters squadrons and four fighter-bombers squadrons are ready to support the assault.

NATO can only decide if his three Brigades will fight a mobile battle (Tactical Mode) or entrench and fight in place (Hedgehog Mode). NATO decides to entrench the UK Brigade, leaving French and US troops the option to retreat toward the central British position after fighting a delay battle.

Situation at July 24 1985, 0200 Zulu Time

Game Turn 1

At 0400 Zulu Time, 20th Guards Army begins its assault on West Berlin.
Soviet 35th Motorized Division, with Mi24 and Artillery support, attacks the French Sector; following NATO plan, the French Brigade retreats in good order into the British Sector.

A defending NATO Berlin Brigade can usually count on 8 to 11 combat modifiers in its favor: 5 for troop quality, 3 for defending in a city hex, 2 for hedgehog mode, 1 for "Festung Berlin" special rule (the lack of alternatives make more determined fighters). On the opposite side, Warsaw Pact only has 4 or 5 combat modifiers given by troop quality, unless attacking an already worn out defender.

With a net combat modifier from 3 to 7 in NATO favor, any attack has only a slim chance to succeed.
To solve this problem, Warsaw Pact must attack at overwhelming odds, as each force ratio more than 7:1 is translated into additional combat modifier for the attacker. So, attacking at 12:1 ratio would give an additional 5 combat modifiers to Warsaw Pact.

To obtain such a force ratio, Warsaw Pact player must use precious assets such as artillery, attack helicopters and Close Air Support. Another option is the Single Echelon Assault, an all-out attack where all the regiments of a Division are used on the front line, giving a 50% increase to attack strength but more losses should the attack fail.

After advancing into West Berlin, 35th Motorized Division faces the combined forces of two NATO brigades, with the Britons entrenched in a strong defensive position. The order to secure the city within 72 hours leaves no choice to the Soviet Army Commander: defender's positions must be assaulted immediately, with everything at hand.

35th Motorized Division launches a Single-Echelon Assault, with all its Regiments in the first line, supported by three artillery Brigades, one Mi24 Helicopter and three Su17 squadrons. Unfortunately for the Soviets, that's not enough: after 8 hours of house fighting, the Soviets have lost more than 80 T-72 and 120 BMP vehicles, effectively destroying the Division's offensive value.

7:1 attack, 0 combat modifier. Die roll 19, result A1: 1 step loss on attacker, +1 step loss for City combat ,+1 step loss for Single-Echelon Assault. Attacking Division is replaced by its Division Base.

It's now 90th Guards Tank Division turn to assault the British Sector, assisted once again by three Artillery Brigades and one Mi24 helicopter squadron. The attack succeeds, inflicting heavy losses to the defenders and allowing Soviet troops to advance a couple of blocks into city center.

Two 7:1 attacks with 0 combat modifiers inflict two step losses on each NATO brigade, leaving the defenders on the verge of elimination but still alive.

With no more artillery or helicopter available for support, Soviet Army Commander requests permission to stop the attack until artillery ammunition stocks are replenished and helicopters readied for another sortie. Explicit threats of removal and trial by 20th Guards Army Political Officer quickly convince him that a continuation of the assault is the only way to avoid personal execution.

90th Guards Tank Division is therefore ordered to attack with all its regiments and without any support. At 1900 Zulu Time, after the third attempt to dislodge British defenders from the Opera House failed, Soviet Division Commander reports that "90th Guards Tank Division is wrecked" and shoots himself.

Soviet commanders, impervious to failure and losses, order 32nd Guards Tank Division to renew the Assault against the Opera House. The exhausted French and British survivors are forced to surrender at 2317 Zulu Time.

Warsaw Pact is finally forced to stop by lack of fresh divisions, artillery and helicopter support.
US Berlin Brigade, now with no available retreat routes, entrenches in the Southern part of West Berlin.

Situation at July, 25 0400 Zulu Time

Game Turn 2

20th Guards Army only has 72 hours to take control of West Berlin. As a game turn covers 48 hours, Soviet movement during game turn 2 is limited to a maximum of 20 Movement Points. 

At the first lights of dawn, 32nd Guards Tank Division starts pounding US position in South West Berlin, with the support of three artillery brigades, 90 Mi24 attack helicopters and 60 Su17 attack aircrafts. 

By 1900 Zulu Time, all West Berlin is under Soviet control and the first 212 American POWs begin their journey toward newly prepared prisoner camps located near strategic installations in USSR. 

With no time for parades, the remnants of 20th Guards Tank Army quickly moves West to join the battle near Hamburg.
Situation at 1900 Zulu Time, July 2 1985

Aftermath

Warsaw Pact Victory Points:
  • NATO ground steps eliminated: 9 x5 = 45 VPs
  • West Berlin City hexes controlled: 4 x5 = 20 VPs
  • Intact Bridges captured: 0 x1 = 0 VPs
NATO Victory Points:
  • WP ground steps eliminated: 6 x2 = 12 VPs
  • WP helicopter steps eliminated: 4 x2 = 8 VPs
Net result is 65 WP  - 20 NATO = 45 Victory Points: Warsaw Pact Marginal Victory.

Friday, 1 September 2017

1985: Under an Iron Sky - Central Map, version 4

The Central section of the map is completed, we still have to double check it but I don't expect horrible mistakes.
Many of the suggestions received  by other wargamers have been implemented. A short, annoying  list of the main ones:
  1. Lighter texture in Plain hexes (we'll probably make it even lighter)
  2. Lighter Sea / Ocean
  3. Changed font size and colors to reduce cluttering
  4. Changed Road size and colors
  5. Changed Bridge symbols
In my opinion, it's definitely better than the early versions; I'll have a test, single copy map printed next week so we'll be able to evaluate the "live" effect.

Here's a map area everyone knows about. Click on it to see the full 1500 x 1000 image in all its glory.