Friday, 27 May 2022

Die Festung Hamburg - NATO OOB, Samples and Notes

The NATO OOB for the next C3 Module Die Festung Hamburg is almost complete. The area covered is the Northern Sector of NORTHAG, defended by a true multinational force including Denmark, The Netherlands, West Germany, United Kingdom and United States.

Here's some notes on the various nationalities, each one with sample units.


The main Danish contribution to the defense of the Schleswig-Holstein sector is the Jutland Division. Unfortunately, as written by David Isby in Armies of NATO's Central Front, "Jutland Division certainly lies at the lower end of the spectrum among NATO's mechanized divisions."

The wartime tactical organization was the well-known Combined Arms battalions equipped with Leopard 1A3, M113 and some (few) anti-tank and combat support equipment.

The division was manned only at 20% during peacetime, and shared the same problems plaguing the rest of the Danish Army: low funding, insufficient training and low ammunition stockpiles. Moreover, the time needed to mobilise the missing 80% personnel could have been significantly long.

West Germany

The Bundeswehr has the Northern slice of WG I Corps, the combined WG/NL I Corps and the LANDJUT Corps represented. The total forces were approximately two PanzerGrenadier and one Panzer divisions, reinforced by some Heimatschutzbrigade and Heimatschutzregiment from the territorial army. 

An additional Panzer division - the NORTHAG strategic reserve - was also available, but of course committing it would have been a quite drastic decision.

The Netherlands

Dutch Army added a whole Corps to NORTHAG defense...In theory. In reality, only a single brigade plus some combat support were near the FEBA, with everything else stationed in the Netherlands 300 km to the west. Moreover, the very complicated Dutch mobilisation system needed time to bring the manoeuvre units to operational status.

On the positive side, the Dutch units were among the heaviest in the NATO arsenal, with up to 20 MBTs, 40 APCs and 12 combat support AFVs for each mechanized battalion.

The tactical organisation and combat values of the Dutch units gave life to one of the most heated discussions in the development team thus far. A detailed explanation of the different points of view will be probably available in the Designers' Notes :)

United Kingdom

In a war against Warsaw Pact, the UK Mobile Force Brigade would have moved by sealift to one of the following areas of deployment:

  1. Schleswig-Holstein, to reinforce LANDJUT Corps
  2. Northern or Insular Denmark, to reinforce COMBALTAP

UK Mobile Force is also Tony Morphet's Secret Love, as he was heavily involved with this formation during his years of active service :)

In the end, it will be up to NATO Commander to decide where to commit the brigade, with each choice having its pros and cons.

United States

In 1985, the 3rd Brigade of 2nd Armoured Division was stationed near Bremen, acting as the forward element of US III Corps.

The brigade would have probably remained under strict US control and was missing most of its support assets (Trucks, fuel tankers, maintenance, medical services). Consequently, the combat value for its battalions is lower than other similar US units.

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Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Die Festung Hamburg - Map Draft

Here's the latest map draft for the upcoming Die Festung Hamburg, covering the 1985 Warsaw Pact offensive in the North German Plain sector. Some details are still missing (airfields, bridges, map labels, etc) but we're getting near. 

The absence of significant elevations and the vast road network should help Warsaw Pact's mechanized offensive, but things are made harder by the extended urban areas and by several formidable water obstacles.

On this latter point, I think some additional details could be interesting:

  • The final stretch of the Elbe river is one to four kilometres wide, and even before reaching Hamburg it could be very difficult to cross. We're still evaluating which ones among the several available crossing methods could be used in specific areas.

  • The Elbe-L├╝beckkanal had features built specifically to slow down a Warsaw Pact offensive and make any crossing attempt problematic. Consequently, it is represented as a major river despite being relatively narrow. See this footage of 6. Panzergrenadierdivision experimenting the Kanal:

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Thursday, 14 April 2022

1985: Deadly Northern Lights Second Echelon - Units

As you probably know, 1985: Deadly Northern Lights is now at DEFCON 3. Here's a short description of the new and updated forces available to NATO with this Second Echelon mobilisation.

On a side note, the number of volunteers enlisting for the Northern Europe campaign has been impressive, up to the point that all the transport assets are full and we are evaluating to stop the recruitment. 

Last but not least, please note that after the declaration of DEFCON 1 all the new / updated counters will be available for download from the TRLGames official site.

USN Carrier Battlegroups

The three available USN Carrier Battlegroups (CV-59 Forrestal, CV-66 America, CVN-69 Eisenhower), previously represented by a single naval counter, are now detailed at single ship level.

This allows using the standard naval rules for all their possible tasks, and of course for possible Soviet attacks too.

UK 1st Infantry Brigade

The British 1st Infantry Brigade, earmarked as a possible reinforcement for AFNORTH and in particular Denmark, was previously represented in its three battalions configuration with an alternate "maxed out" configuration of five battalions.

My co-designer Anthony Morphet served in the unit and strongly protested against this, bringing more and more convincing arguments toward the five battalions configuration. This "maxed-out" OOB is now the official composition of the Brigade.

USN Fast Sealift Ships

Starting in 1981, USN began acquiring specific high-speed container ships and converting them into the Algol Class Vehicle Cargo Ships, or SL-7. 

These vessels, combining high speed and decent protection, were assigned to AFCENT and eight of them could have transported a heavy US division to Europe. In June 1985, only four vessels were already operational. 

in 1985: Under an Iron Sky, the effect of the FSS ships on the US reinforcements to the Central Front is abstracted. The specific counters below are intended to be used only in 1985: Mutual Assured Destruction combined campaign, allowing a more realistic and detailed use of the Military Sealift Command capabilities.

US 9th Light Infantry Division

In 1981, US Army started experimenting with the "High Technology Light Division" concept. The basic idea was to create a division that could deploy using approximately 1,000 C-141 sorties and still have sufficient combat power to be used in high intensity conflicts.

As could be expected, the project encountered several problems and went thru different revisions: The 1985 version had a mix of light (HMMW equipped) and heavy (M901 TOW equipped) combined arms battalions, and was still considered not definitive.

All of the above brought me to introduce a new type of combat unit, the Motorized Infantry, that can be deployed using Strategic Air Transport only. A worthy addition to the NATO arsenal, if you can find enough airlift for it.

NATO Convoys

After a few days of an all-out conflict against the Warsaw Pact, NATO would have probably needed a steady flow of ammunition and supply from the US in order to keep fighting at its maximum combat potential. 

Convoys, each one representing several transport ships and their escort, are already present in the 1985: Mutual Assured Destruction combined campaign and in 1985: Sacred Oil, and are now used in 1985: Deadly Northern Lights too.

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

1985: Deadly Northern Lights Second Echelon - Operational Maps

 A quick preview of the new operational maps for 1985: Deadly Northern Lights - Second Echelon.

COs using the previous edition should notice: 

  • The lighter colour used for Arctic Rough 2 terrain.
  • The lighter colour used for Arctic Plain terrain.
  • The absence of Air Interception Modifiers, not used anymore with the latest rules.
  • The absence of the CVBG Holding Boxes, not used anymore with the introduction of the single ships composing each CV Battlegroup.
  • Some minor changes / corrections here and there.

Monday, 8 March 2021

1985: Sacred Oil - Maps Details

The maps for 1985: Sacred Oil are almost finished....Here's a preview of each map, with some minor details still missing.

Defining the terrain types has been interesting, as there's almost nothing comparable to a "European" terrain. As strange as it sounds, mountains are not mountains, lakes are not lakes, and plains are, well, not plains :)

I hope I'll be able to post a complete map overview soon and start some serious work on the OOBs...Meanwhile, if you'd like to reserve a copy, report for duty by writing at!

Map F, Tehran and Caspian Sea Area

Map G, Baghdad and Iran - Iraq Border Area

Map H, Iran Ahvaz Area

Map J, Qatar and Saudi Arabia

Map K, The Strait and Bandar Abbas

Friday, 12 February 2021

1985: Sacred Oil - More Maps

With The Dogs of War offensive now ending, work on 1985: Sacred Oil is restarting!

Three of the six maps are almost finished, even though several details are still provisional (exact colours, map junctions and more). I must say I'm very happy with the result.

The Persian Gulf area has several distinctive geographical features, so new terrain types have been added:

  • Iranian Highlands: Broken terrain, with little or no roads and a 2000+ meters altitude
  • Desert: this covers sandy desert, rocky desert and the salt desert found in several Iranian areas.
Mountain roads are another interesting aspect: Alexis Seydoux, who visited Iran more than 20 times and knows it better than a Guard of the Revolution, pointed out that several major roads are actually only slightly better than mule trails when crossing the highest mountain passes. Consequently, some roads will abruptly end exactly when they are more needed :)

Here's the three completed maps together, and a more detailed view of the Shiraz area on Map J (with some development labels still on it).

Maps F, H and J (Open Link in a new Tab for full resolution)

Bushehr - Shiraz Area Detail