Saturday, 8 December 2018

Less Than 60 Miles - Playtest Session 13 (2)

Second part of the Less Than 60 Miles After Action Report, internal playtest session 13. 
You may find part one at this link and the official game page at this one.

As you maybe remember, I'm US V Corps Commander so no Bolsheviki mumbo-jumbo from me this time :)

Playtest is made on Vassal, using the production map and counters you'll find in the box. Several rules had minor adjustments during the session, so if you're really careful you could find a couple of strange readjustments here and there, but the overall flow of the events is consistent.

As for the first part, I'll keep a fast narrative and let the images do the rest. 
And now, we're going to raise the curtain and commence from......

D+1 0000 ZT - Warsaw Pact Phase

Soviet Divisions press on the assault even during the first night hours, taking advantage of reduced long-range fire from defenders. (This is a discussed decision. Does night favors the side with shorter fire range or the side with better FLIR capabilities?).

Assaults from 1st Guards Tank Army are getting US 1/3AD Brigade more and more in trouble, with its 3 battalions accumulating losses and support artillery running short of ammo.

East German III Military District takes advantage of night time to reorganize and refit some worn-out units.

On the good news side, NATO detects the position of 57th Guards Division HQ and launches a combined Air / Artillery strike, inflicting serious losses.

D+1 0000 ZT - NATO Phase

US 8th Division planned to counterattack Warsaw Pact's Southern Flank starting at 1200, but the approaching collapse of US 1/3AD brigade forces me to attack as soon as possible, ready or not.

For starting, 3/8ID Brigade exploits an imprudent deployment of Soviet 39th Guards Division HQ, attacking by surprise and almost destroying it. This could disrupt the whole Division's operations in the next few hours and offer more chances for counterattacks.

D+1 0300 ZT - WP Phase

Warsaw Pact decides that a stop for Rest & Refit is needed and does not launch new attacks during the night. 

D+1 0300 ZT - NATO Phase

Thanks to the pause in fighting, NATO has several strike aircraft available and use them in combination with a Lance battalion to bombard and finally destroy the HQ of Soviet 39th Guards Division.

Taking advantage of the subsequent enemy disorganization,  1/8ID Brigade attacks a Soviet Motorized Rifle Regiment, inflicting heavy losses.
Assault From March, Warsaw Pact's most used Posture at the moment, is very good for mobility and offensive operation but quite vulnerable to counterattacks.

D+1 0600 ZT - WP Phase

At dawn, Warsaw Pact renews full-scale assault in the areas of its two main attack axis. 
The attacks fail to achieve a breakthrough, but the situation for 1/3AD remains critical as losses are mounting. 

2/3AD Brigade is getting into troubles too, as 1-48 Mech Infantry Battalion fails to disengage and is forced to stay in a very dangerous position.
Disengaging from a pressing enemy proves to be one of the most difficult operations, with several possible options and counter-options. Artillery barrage fire before disengaging, interdiction fire on attacking units to force them to lose contact, interdiction fire on defending unit to stop the disengagement attempt are some of them. 

D+1 0600 ZT - NATO Phase

NATO tries to reorganize its lines. West German 5 Panzer tries to link its right flank to US 1/3AD Brigade and prepares 15/5Pz Brigade for a local counterattack should the Americans succumb to Warsaw Pact pressure.

D+1 0900 ZT - WP Phase

Soviet attacks continue, achieving dangerous breakthroughs both in 1/3AD Brigade and 2/3AD Brigade sectors. 

D+1 0900 - NATO Phase

NATO cannot wait any longer to launch its counterattack, as US 3rd Armored Division sector could crumble at any moment unless Warsaw Pact pressure lessens. A breakthrough could be fatal as the only reserves available are a couple of US Battalions and one WG Jager Battalion.

US 3/8ID(+) Brigade launches a full-scale assault against 39th Guards MRD, with heavy artillery and attack helicopters support. First results are encouraging, with Soviet 172G Motorized Rifle Regiment taking heavy losses.

In the US 3AD sector, 3rd Brigade moves to contact the North flank of Soviet 27G MRD, reducing its freedom of manoeuvre. 

D+1 1200 - Warsaw Pact Phase

NATO plays "Air Surge", gaining additional Close Air Support. Newly assigned aircraft immediately proceed to strike a worn out Self-Propelled Artillery Battalion from 39G MRD, destroying it.

Warsaw Pact begins disengaging 39th Guards MRD, with East German 11 MRD probably getting ready to take its place. No major attacks.

D+1 1200 ZT - NATO Phase

US 3/8I(+) Brigade continues its counterattack, this time targeting East German 11 MRD and inflicting heavy losses to another Motorized Rifle Regiment.

D+1 1500 ZT - WP Phase

Having replenished its artillery ammunition stocks, Warsaw Pact resumes attacks along the whole front and succeeds in opening a gap between US 1/3AD Bde and WG 15/5Pz Bde. 

In the South, 39G MRD continue its disengagement attempt, but Soviets seem undecided about replacing it with 79th Guards Tank Division, until now kept behind as Operational Maneuver Group.

D+1 1500 ZT - NATO Phase

The dangerous gap between US 1/3A Bde and WG 15/5Pz Bde is filled by a WG Jager Battalion and 5 PanzerAufklaerungsBataillon (for the rest of the world, Armored Cavalry).

15/5Pz Brigade also launches a limited counterattack on 20G MRD North flank, to help decreasing pressure on the Americans.

US 3/8I(+) Brigade counterattack goes on, hitting East German 11 MRD and forcing another Motorized Rifle Regiment to disengage with heavy losses. 

Call it a Day

As noted at the beginning of this AAR, Warsaw Pact plan wasn't particularly smart and was tailored for offering NATO several counterattack opportunities. 

At this point, we decided to stop the session as this main point has been tested. Given the opportunity, NATO counterattacks at Brigade level can be very dangerous and inflict heavy losses on Warsaw Pact. A well executed counterattack at Division level could disrupt or even stop an entire WP Army.

WP wasn't too efficient in frontage definition and movement organization. 1st Guards Tank Army was definitely too packed, leaving little room for maneuver and creating horrible traffic jams when trying to relieve units on the FEBA.

On NATO side, the biggest error was engaging the two reserve brigades too early (2/8I and 3/3A), leaving no available maneuver units should something have gone wrong.

We're now beginning playtest for the first, introductory scenario, titled The Eleventh Hour. ;)

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Less Than 60 Miles - Playtest Session 13 (1)

Some details on our internal playtest session 13 for Less Than 60 MilesFor a change, I'm US V Corps Commander in charge - Better Dead Than Red!

Playtest is made on Vassal, using the final production map and counters art you will find in the box. One of the main consequences of the previous playtest sessions has been the change of the time scale, now at three hours per turn.

In this AAR, I'll try to give some hints on several mechanisms of the "C3" system, keeping a fast narrative without excessive details.

More info on Less Than 60 Miles can be found on the official Thin Red Line Games site!

Scenario Overview

At 0600 Central European Time of July, 24 1985 Warsaw Pact forces cross the Inner German Border. Western intelligence and politician screwed up, and the order to move to battle positions is issued only 10 hours before the beginning of the attack.

Warsaw Pact attacking forces are composed by:
  • Soviet 1st Guards Tank Army
    9th Tank Division
    20th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
    11th Guards Tank Division
  • Soviet 8th Guards Army
    27th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
    39th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
    57th Guards Motorized Rifle Division
    79th Guards Tank Division
  • East German III Military District
    7th Panzer Division
    4th Motorized Rifle Division
    11th Motorized Rifle Division
Forces available to US V Corps are:
  • US 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment
  • US 3rd Armored Division
  • US 8th Infantry Division
  • West German 5th Panzer Division

Battle Plans

The main goal of this playtest session is to verify NATO's capabilities to counterattack effectively at Brigade level, if offered a decent chance. Consequently, Warsaw Pact battle plan is voluntarily quite different from a masterpiece of military art. 

1st GTA and 8th GA will advance along the main roads toward Frankfurt, leaving a convenient gap between them that could be used by NATO for a flank counterattack. East German Division will put pressure on NATO flanks and support the Soviet advance if needed.

As in any typical Soviet-era plan, everything goes as smooth as silk and the Glorious Armies of the Socialist People will control Frankfurt at D+3 (H+72)

NATO plan has three distinct phases:
  1. Establish a solid defense line, keeping at least one brigade for each division in reserve
  2. Slowly retreat along the two main WP advance axis
  3. As soon as losses and attrition force Warsaw Pact to commit its Operational Maneuver Groups, counterattack with reserve brigades.

D+0, 0600 ZT - Warsaw Pact Phase

Warsaw Pact obtains some HUMINT on the exact location of West German's Attack Helicopter squadrons, and proceed to attack them with a combined air + SS-23 strike. WG 1/5 AH squadron is completely destroyed during the attack.

Warsaw Pact Divisions cross the Inner German Border, mostly using doctrinal deployment as follows: 
  • 1x Reconnaissance Battalion, in Recon Posture
  • 2x Tank / Motorized Rifle Regiments, in Assault From March Posture
  • Regiment Artillery Group, mostly Self-Propelled artillery, in Close Support Posture
  • 1x Tank / Motorized Rifle Regiment, in Assault From March Posture
  • Division Artillery Group, reinforced by Army / Front artillery assets, in Close Support Posture for SP Artillery and Tactical Posture for Towed Artillery.
Assault From March Posture gives WP divisions good mobility and attack strength, by sacrificing defense capabilities and Blocking capabilities (similar to ZOC).

NATO executes several Air Interdiction missions along WP axis of advance, while covering forces try their best to slow down the Communist mechanized columns.

D+0, 0600 ZT - NATO Phase

Biggest problem for NATO is the lack of time for getting US 3AD and WG 5Pz Divisions into position.

The only option is moving in Road Mode toward the FEBA, hoping that enemy air strikes will not obliterate the vulnerable columns in the process. Moreover, troops could be exposed to enemy ground attacks during final passage into Tactical / Defense Posture as covering forces could be heavily engaged and unable to protect the deployment areas.

For now, covering forces North of Fulda succeed in disengaging from the enemy and move to the next battle position.

D+0, 0900 ZT - Warsaw Pact Phase

NATO executes more interdiction missions, slowing down Soviet 1GTA progress.

A couple of Ground Strike Missions target WP Artillery battalions right behind the leading regiments, as their forward position and Close Support Posture give NATO good intelligence on their location. After incurring in some serious losses, Warsaw Pact Front Commander orders all the RAG battalions to stay at least 5 km behind the FEBA.

9th Tank Division quickly crosses the upper Fulda river using amphibious equipment, at the cost of some recon vehicles and T-80s lost during fording operations.

More South, three Soviet Divisions approach Fulda from different directions.

D+0, 0900 ZT - NATO Phase

Warsaw Pact interdicts roads used by 1/3AD and 3/3AD, slowing down their movement to the FEBA.

D+0, 1200 ZT - WP Phase

Thanks to 95th Tank Regiment established bridgehead across Fulda river, WP engineers can start setting up a Ribbon Bridge near Bad Hersfeld. At the same time, more Combat Engineers support WP troops crossing Fulda river at three different locations.

Attacks against NATO covering forces along the whole front are successful, forcing them to disengage or retreat West. 1/11ACR is practically encircled in the western outskirts of Fulda.

D+0, 1200 ZT - NATO Phase

NATO Brigades are now more or less in position, but helpless as most Battalions are still in Road Posture. Covering forces must hold in place and keep enemy away for six more hours, or the main defense line could be unable to withstand the initial impact.

US 3AD also starts setting up improved defense positions near Steinau.

D+0, 1500 ZT - WP Phase

Preliminary artillery bombardments pin in place most of NATO covering forces, followed shortly by furious assaults by WP advanced Divisions.

In the end, most of covering troops must retreat with heavy losses, and in a couple of areas Pact's Divisions are able to make contact with NATO main defense forces. Luckily, Soviet 27th Guards MRD paid the price for destroying 1/11 ACR and is now somewhat fatigued.

D+0, 1500 ZT - NATO Phase

Orders are frantically issued and executed by NATO brigades, but despite the urgency several US 8ID units will not be ready for combat before H2100. US 3AD and WG 5Pz are able to assume a mix of Defense and Tactical Postures, not optimal but maybe enough for stopping the first assaults.

The main problem is the absence of most attack helicopter squadrons, still busy setting up FARPs away from airfields with firing coordinates well known to Warsaw Pact. This delay is partially imputable to wrong orders issued to AH units during the first, chaotic hours of the conflict.

D+0, 1800 ZT - Warsaw Pact Phase

Remaining NATO covering forces are attacked repeatedly, with most of them finally succumbing to losses. 

In particular, 9th Tank Division is able to drive a wedge between US 3AD and WG 5Pz Divisions, putting US 2-36 Battalion in a dangerous position.

Detail of Soviet 1st Guards Tank Army + EG III Military District sector

D+0 1800 ZT - NATO Phase

NATO main defense line is finally almost in place, even though several weak spots still remain, particularly in US 8ID sector.

D+0, 2100 ZT - WP Phase

Successful Intelligence allows Warsaw Pact to pinpoint WG 14/5Pz HQ exact location, and in a matter of minutes a heavy bombardment by SS-21 and SS-23 missiles almost destroys it. This could have a heavy impact on WG brigade's combat capabilities in the next few hours, but luckily night is approaching.

Pact's forces begin assaulting the main NATO defense line, with immediate local successes in US 1/8ID sector.

Meanwhile, permanent Panel Bridges over Fulda river are completed, allowing Warsaw Pact to disassemble the previously used Ribbon Bridges and free combat engineers for other tasks.

D+0, 2100 ZT - NATO Phase

NATO is forced to move 3/3AD brigade near the FEBA, risking to have it engaged by Pact's forces. Hopefully, Soviet 8th Guards Army will continue to move along the East - West autobahn, ignoring it.

US 8ID should finally be fully deployed by D+1, H0000 ZT.

Now, two night game turns are approaching. We will see if Warsaw Pact Commander wants to press on, conceding no rest to NATO and his own troops. Part two of this AAR will follow!

Sunday, 14 October 2018

"Less Than 60 Miles" Designer's Notes Part 2

Here's the second part of the Designer's Notes for Less Than 60 Miles, currently in playtest here at Thin Red Line Games.  

The game covers the 1985 Warsaw Pact offensive in V Corps / Fulda area and takes its roots from SPI's Central Front and NATO: Division Commander. An overview of the game can be found here.

This second part focuses on how movement and combat are handled - both, in my opinion, quite different from the usual cup of tea. Read the first part here.

Movement and Terrain

In war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes.

Julius Caesar, “De Bello Gallico”

For a real commander, planning and organizing the movements of a mechanized unit is not a trivial task and can easily end up in a disaster when badly executed. Actually, most of the Command Staff time is dedicated to movement planning.

In most simulations, you don’t have this problem. You usually have two movement modes:

  • Standard Mode, where your unit has its full combat potential and move decently across most terrains.
  • Road Mode, where your unit has reduced combat potential and moves very fast across most terrains. 

So, your tanks must move across a wooded area to attack a defensive position? Kids’ stuff, you just pay 4 movement points for the woods and immediately proceed to assault the enemy, in perfect combat formation.

Or maybe not. According to US Field Manual 34-130 – Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (1994), terrain is classified into three broad types:
Terrain Type
Unopposed Movement Speed
24 km/h
16 km/h
1 km/h

Now, let’s see how US FM 34-130 classifies wooded areas:
Trunk Diameter
Tree Spacing
Terrain Type
Less than 5 cm
More than 6 meters
Between 5 and 15 cm
Less than 6 meters
More than 15 cm
Less than 6 meters

In plain terms, this means that a mechanized unit advancing in combat formation would need one hour to cross one kilometer of impassable terrain like, well, my garden.
A new definition of "Impassable Terrain" - My garden.
The bottom line is: a mechanized unit moving in combat formation is painfully slow on almost every terrain except a featureless plain. For “painfully”, I mean it could take one or two days to cover 20 km in an average wooded area.

The standard procedure for tactical marches across rough terrain is to form one or more columns, thus allowing each column to move along small roads or trails and avoid the most difficult points. When near the objective, units will move in predefined regroup areas and only after reorganizing they will be ready to attack an enemy position. During the reorganization time, the unit is vulnerable to enemy reactions unless the commander organized a defensive screen protecting the unit. Several armies developed their own unique approach to this problem (for example Warsaw Pact’s “Assault from March”), but its impact on an operational simulation cannot be overestimated.

Call In the Reconnaissance Officer

In Less Than 60 Miles, these movement problems are reproduced by the interaction between a Unit’s Posture and the Map itself.

A Unit’s Posture determines its Movement Mode. Column Mode uses roads or even trails not represented on the map to their maximum advantage. Tactical Mode employs multiple columns and gives decent combat power, at the price of forcing a part of the unit to move across SLOW-GO or NO-GO terrain. Finally, Deployed mode prioritizes immediate combat power and forces the unit to move across any terrain faced.

The three Movement Modes

The map we decided to use is a simplified 1:500000 topographical military map, with most terrain features not “normalized” and having more than one terrain type in each hex. As the terrain actually crossed by a unit depends by its Movement Mode, the same hex could be Plain Terrain when moving in Column Mode and Forest when moving in Deployed Mode.

When Movement Modes and Map are put to work together, planning a brigade’s movement is suddenly not so obvious anymore: what’s the best route for moving from point A to point B? How long will it take for the units to reach their objective? Moreover, using main roads whenever possible becomes a top priority, as in real military planning.
Map Sample

As a last note, the movement rates used in Less Than 60 Miles were compared with custom scenarios in Steel Beasts Professional, a spectacular military training application, and values were adjusted accordingly. A big thanks to Ulf Krahn, our man in Stockholm, for his effort on this.

The Damned Autobahn Is Jammed

More surprises came from researching road movement. 

According to “FM 34-130, intelligence preparation of the battlefield” a US heavy Division moving on a road and using a single route forms a column 247 km long. Yes, that’s not a typo: two hundred forty-seven kilometres. If march is organized on three different routes, the column is “only” 130 km long. Quite different from the single counter with a “Road Mode” marker we typically see in a wargame.

This is simulated in Less Than 60 Miles by forcing players to pay movement point penalties if units moving along a road are too packed together, creating the classical traffic jam.

Seven Days to the Rhine

Crossing water obstacles is usually considered a minor hindrance for modern mechanized units: you pay your extra 3 movement points and keep moving. Yes, Rhine river could be a problem, but in 1985 anything smaller would have been crossed in a matter of minutes.

Actually, several Warsaw Pact artillery and trucks had no amphibious capabilities, and the same applies to the most used West German Armored Fighting Vehicle, the Marder. This means that your tanks are going to cross, but you’ve left everything else on the opposite river bank.

Even for units with amphibious capabilities, crossing an unbridged river is a bigger problem than expected. Tanks must be equipped with snorkels, and a not too steep river bank must be found. Non-floating vehicles can be stuck on the river bottom by mud or hidden rocks. Vehicle losses were the norm even during organized maneuvers and were of course removed from official propaganda movies.
Soviet T-80s ready for an amphibious crossing. What could possibly go wrong?

In Less Than 60 Miles, Players will have to choose among several options when facing a river crossing. An Amphibious Unit may opt for a Hasty Crossing using snorkels and floating equipment, risking attrition. More prudent and slower approaches are Prepared Crossing with Combat Engineers assistance, or Engineer-built Ribbon Bridges.


Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head.

Euripides, “Ion”

The overall combat system is inspired by NATO: Division Commander, in my opinion one of the most realistic portraits of modern mechanized warfare.

This brings to life a combat model where unit values have only a limited impact, and a lot of other considerations make the real difference. Reconnaissance, tactical deployment, support by nearby units, command control, electronic warfare, training, combat attrition and supply are only some of them.

The Attack – Defense Paradox

Combat system also changes one of the oldest cornerstones about unit values: a unit attacks with its attack value and defends with its defense value. Simple, clear. Why mess with this elegant concept?

Let’s take as example a couple of your favourite units: two US M-1 Armoured Battalions with hypothetical 7-5 values. Now, put these two identical battalions moving one against the other, in perfectly plain terrain with nothing in it, and you’ll immediately see the problem of this old paradigm:
  • When battalion A is attacking, it attacks on the +2 column (7 attack – 5 defense)
  • When battalion B is attacking, it attacks on the +2 column (7 attack – 5 defense)
Something wrong here. Why the attacker always has an advantage? What the hell is the defender doing? There’s absolutely no cover for the attacker, and unless the defending crews are drunk and waiting like sitting ducks, this fight should be at least even. Yes, the attacker may concentrate its forces better, but it’s also advancing and more exposed to enemy fire.

Counters Sample

These considerations gave birth to the “variable value” combat rule, where the defense value actually used by a unit in combat will vary depending on the tactical situation. An armoured unit will be more dangerous when attacked by other tanks, while a mechanized unit will be in trouble when attacked by tanks in a terrain offering no cover.

The Kings of Battle

There’s no need to stress the importance of artillery and air support (both fixed and rotary wing) in a combat. In Less Than 60 Miles, it is critical as it should be.

That said, we tried to avoid reducing the Kings of Battle to a simple number added to the units’ combat value. Here too, the idea is to offer Players several possible choices about how to use combat support to its best effect.

Does the tactical situation require a heavy Barrage Fire, or maybe assigning some guns to a preliminary Bombardment would be a better idea? Should you keep some battalions ready for Counter-Battery fire? Are those towed guns too slow for Shoot & Scoot and exposed to enemy Counter-Battery fire?

Moreover, the actual impact of artillery on combat cannot be predicted beforehand. The fire coordinates could be vague or wrong, the enemy could have better cover than expected. When Players will know the precise effect of their barrage fire, it will be too late to change their mind.

Even Combat Air Support cannot be simply assigned as an afterthought. CAS must be planned and coordinated between Air Force and Army to be effective, and this process could require up to several hours not counting the time needed for aircrafts refuel and loadout. A Player not investing time and precious Command Points to define and establish CAS Areas will find himself with little or no air cover.  

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Less Than 60 Miles - Designer's Notes, Part 1

As already happened for 1985: Under an Iron Sky, I'm going to share a first draft of  Less Than 60 Miles Designer's Notes, in three parts. 

The game covers the 1985 Warsaw Pact offensive in the V Corps / Fulda area and takes its roots from SPI's Central Front and NATO: Division Commander. An overview of the game can be found here.

This first part focuses on the high level design choices and their rationale. All the example images are made using the map and counters graphics you will find in the game. Counters could still have some retouch, but nothing substantial.

Confusion and Disorder

The goal is to collapse adversary’s system into confusion and disorder causing him to over and under react to activity that appears simultaneously menacing as well as ambiguous, chaotic, or misleading.

John R. Boyd, “Patterns of Conflict”

As probably any other Grognard, I've been reading a devastating number of books on military campaigns and operations.

In almost all of them, I’ve found descriptions of apparently simple plans that turned into a disaster due to poor planning, wrong orders or bad execution. Even when planning, orders and execution went as smooth as silk, the plan was sometimes outmaneuvered or outsmarted by the enemy.

The final causes for these disasters are of every imaginable type. A Division had to move from point A to town B, but enemy reacted faster than expected and occupied the town hours before. A Regiment was preparing to attack an enemy position, but an unexpected enemy counterattack routed it. A Brigade was digging in to defend a city, but the enemy attacked while it was still deploying. A river had to be crossed, but all the available ribbon bridges have been used somewhere else.

In most operational and strategic wargames, replicating this kind of events is very difficult. Players have an almost complete control, and units react instantly to new directives. During years, several solutions have been developed (random events, variable initiative, command points and similar), but the basic problems remained:

  • The typical time frame of a game turn is tailored to allow execution of almost any desired action within a single phase, thus leaving the enemy no possibility to react.
  • The distance covered in a single turn by a unit could be considerable, thus forcing players to adopt a continuous line of units and zones of control as the only solution to avoid being bypassed or encircled during the enemy’s movement phase.
  • Any decided course of action has no inertia and can be rapidly modified should necessity arise. You don’t need a real plan, and you’re not taking anyone really by surprise unless rules decide so.
Defender’s classical problem using a "long" time frame: stop the attack and avoid being encircled

With no possible reaction for 12 hours, Defender has only a solution: Continuous Front, 1915 style.

Less Than 60 Miles tries to convey a realistic approach to the above problems by giving the correct importance and impact to four basic elements: Time, Posture, Orders and Command Chain. In the end, the interaction among these four elements will put players in front of the underlying concept: the OODA Cycle theorized by John Boyd in the early ‘80s and used as basis for several key military doctrines.

By using the four elements above better and faster than the opponent, a player will get inside the OODA Loop of the enemy, undermining its capability to react in an appropriate and timely manner to the unfolding events.

John Boyd's OODA Loop


Probably the most important factor in war is time. Every action needs to be executed within a certain time frame and becomes useless or even dangerous if carried out later.

One of the first design decisions was to have fast-playing game turns, each one representing only two hours of real time, then increased to three to allow more "strategic scope" in each scenario. This has a decisive impact on player’s actions and possibilities.

By using time segments of two hours, a unit typically moves only a few hexes during its movement phase and will not be able to instantly outflank a position without any reaction. Also, moving off-road becomes highly undesirable as it would give the enemy even more opportunities to react accordingly.

Moreover, once the fastest approach routes are guarded the defender is not forced to keep a continuous defense line as the only viable solution to avoid encirclement. By keeping a mobile force ready, enemy moves can be countered as they happen, and Meeting Engagements become finally possible.

Defender with appropriate orders may react to enemy moves before it’s too late.
The front is no more continuous and static, but fluid.
Finally, most actions cannot be completed during a single game turn. A dug-in mechanized battalion that successfully defended a town will not be able to instantly launch a counterattack against the attacker. It will need to change to an attack formation, leaving itself vulnerable to enemy reactions for the time needed to change its posture.


Posture defines the current tactical formation of a unit and has a heavy impact on its movement and combat capabilities. Each unit type has specific possible postures, and each one gives advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, some postures allow to simulate specific military doctrines, like Warsaw Pact’s Assault from March and NATO’s Counter-Blitz.

A unit Posture is the result of the last orders received, and limits the tactical choices available to that unit. A Battalion that received a "Defend" order from its HQ is not going to abandon its position to attack an enemy unit, no matter how good the opportunity looks. 

Each Posture allows a unit to change to another "related" Posture without additional orders from the HQ. For example, a unit in "Screen" Posture may decide to change to "Defend" autonomously. More radical changes are allowed, but for a price in Time and Attrition.

Posture markers, indicating Movement Mode and Combat Differential Shifts.

Changing a Unit’s Posture typically requires more than a single game turn, and during the transition from the old to the new Posture the unit will be more vulnerable. Once again, the enemy will have the possibility to react and exploit any reckless move.


Ordering large formations to move out or attack is a complicated business, usually more complicated than expected. Even the over-celebrated 90 degrees turn of Patton’s III Army at the Ardennes took 72 hours.

According to several military analysts, a Soviet battalion in the ’80 needed 8 to 12 hours to plan and execute a deliberate assault against an enemy defensive position. A Division or even worse an Army would of course require a greater amount of time to change its course of action.

US Army literature theorizes on the 1/3 – 2/3 rule: if you have 18 hours for preparing Brigade orders, brigade HQ will take 6 hours, Battalion HQs 4 hours, company HQs 2.6 hours, and so on. That’s a good rule of thumb for assigning available time, but avoids the real question: how long does it take to get ready to move? Most sources indicate 12 hours as the minimum time needed to prepare orders and deploy a Brigade in march formation, even when using the so called FRAGORD procedure (FRAGmented ORDers written as things moves on).

In Less Than 60 Miles, most orders will require more time than desired to be carried out. Players will have to prepare and execute a real plan, as changing their course of action once things started moving could be slow and problematic.

For example, Warsaw Pact player will need to apply the “Operational Manoeuvre Group” concept to its full extent. One or more Divisions should be kept in a fast-moving Posture like Road or Tactical, ready to exploit any decisive breakthrough when the enemy has no more reserves available to react. This cannot be improvised at the last minute and must be prepared beforehand.

On the other side, NATO could decide (or be forced) to keep a part of its units as a rapid reaction force to counter any unexpected event or to counterattack locally should the opportunity arise. Even in this case, creating this reserve force in the instant it is needed will be invariably too late.

Chain of Command

In order to issue and execute orders in a timely manner, you will need a Command Chain starting from a higher-level Headquarters and going down to the units executing the order.

Command Chain is not an abstract concept you’ll worry about only occasionally. Each side will have to balance the advantage of having Headquarters near the Forward Edge of Battle Area and directly influencing the battle, with the disadvantage of making them targets for enemy air, missile and artillery strikes.

Another point to evaluate constantly is having Headquarters in Deployed or Moving Posture. A deployed Headquarters is more efficient and harder to detect as it uses cable communications, but it’s static. On the contrary, a moving Headquarters is less efficient and radio communications makes it easier to detect, but it’s able to move out quickly.

Attrition and Fatigue

We were succeeding. When you looked at the specifics, this became a war of attrition. We were winning. 

William Westmoreland

At least on one point, General Westmoreland was right: since the beginning of history, Attrition at all levels and in all its forms has always been one of the key factors of every war. Imposing an unbearable attrition rate on your enemy, while keeping your own at an acceptable level, is one of the more tested and certain methods to obtain victory.

In order to handle attrition, Less Than 60 Miles refines one of the most interesting and innovating concepts of  SPI's "Central Front" series: Friction Points, here renamed Attrition Points.

Attrition Points represents the many factors deteriorating the combat abilities of a military unit: losses, vehicle breakdowns, ammunition and fuel shortage, fatigue and in certain cases also desertions.

Units have a limited capability to recover from attrition, depending by the efficiency of their supply chain and by replacements available. Units in safe rear areas and in Refit Posture will recover faster. Most Warsaw Pact units in particular are never able to completely recover from attrition, due to the doctrine of using units up to exhaustion and replacing them with fresh ones. 

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Less Than 60 Miles - Frankfurt, we have a problem.

Setup for full-strength Warsaw Pact attack in US V Corps area:

  • Soviet 1st Guards Tank Army
  • Soviet 8th Guards Army
  • East German III Military District
  • Mixed support units from Central Front
NATO did not make pre-war movements yet.....Showing the FEBA only, map and counters are the same that will be used for final production.

V Corps FEBA - Click for full details
Possible main thrust area - Click for full details

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Less Than 60 Miles - Development (2)

Some screenshots about Thin Red Line Games' next release, titled C3: Less Than 60 Miles.

The game is still in development - Unit values and graphics are temporary, and combat is resolved by umpire decision and not by tables. Basically, we're refining the Command, Control and Communication mechanisms.

The scenario being used now has Warsaw Pact achieving a complete operational surprise, with NATO forces starting to assemble only 2 hours before hostilities begin.

Warsaw Pact Plan is to advance on the Bad Hersfeld - Alsfeld - Giessen axis with 2 divisions, with Southern flank covered by 57th Guards MRD advancing on the Fulda - Lauterbach - Gedern axis. 79th Guards Tank Division will act as Operational Maneuver Group and exploit any breakthrough.

NATO plan is basically Generals Balck and Von Mellenthin proposed plan, where the  Soviet attack should be channeled along a chosen route and destroyed by counterattacks on flank and rear areas.

That said, I've made some questionable decision about NATO movement orders....the final result is that 8th Guards forward elements will probably engage a totally unprepared WG 14/5 Panzer Brigade at 1400 ZT.

V Corps Sector Overview at 1000 Zulu Time (6 hours after war outbreak)

3/11 ARMCAV trying to districate itself from the attack.
27th Guards MRD Engineer building a Ribbon Bridge over Fulda river.

57th Guards MRD crossing Fulda river and turning North to cover the flank of main attack.
Near Steinau, bridges have been mined by NATO, while US 2/3 ARM Brigade just arrived in position.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

1985: Under an Iron Sky - Warsaw Pact Field Manual WP-01-001

As stated in 1985: Under an Iron Sky Designer's Notes, Warsaw Pact faces a hard task. NATO is strong and becomes stronger quickly, so it's imperative for Warsaw Pact to seize the initiative and keep NATO off-balance as long as possible.

No matter how good a player is, he will probably find himself in trouble when playing Warsaw Pact for the first time. The interactions among the various elements of a full-scale modern conflict could be quite difficult to grasp at the first attempt, so it's possible (actually, probable) for Warsaw Pact player trying to simplify what is actually a complicated problem: how to break NATO defenses and keep his opponent constantly reacting to emergencies.

In this Field Manual, I'll try to describe typical operational situations Warsaw Pact will find, and how to face them. Of course not every problem has necessarily a solution, and in some cases the capitalist defenses could simply prove too strong, no matter the amount of Socialist Effort produced to break them.

The Offensive - General Principles

Concentration of Forces

Warsaw Pact does not have enough forces for pushing along the whole front. Warsaw Pact Commander must therefore choose a limited number of areas where to concentrate overwhelming forces of all available kinds: Motorized and Tank Divisions, Attack Helicopters, Electronic Warfare, Air Support, SSM, Artillery, Combat Engineer and Flak.

All of this forces, acting as a Combined Arms Group, will be needed. Should one of the main attack axis have no Electronic Warfare or too few Artillery, it could be unable to achieve a significant break through.

Special Forces could also help against the strongest defenses, so don't waste them against secondary targets. Do not hesitate to sacrifice them to destroy an Electronic Warfare or Artillery unit.

Air Superiority

Warsaw Pact should do everything possible to obtain Air Superiority over the front line facing its main attack axis, or at a bare minimum deny NATO Air Superiority over it. Air Superiority will stop NATO helicopters from supporting defense in the area, and hamper NATO Air Support.

In order to achieve this, WP Commander must plan in advance. 
  1. Move Flak in the Air Area covering the Attack Axis
    During the turn before the offensive, the Air Area covering the Attack Axis must be filled with A or B rated flaks. During the following Air Superiority Phase, these flak will force NATO to give up any attempt to gain Air Superiority or to sustain very heavy losses among its precious Air Squadrons.
  2. Assign a sufficient number of Air Squadrons to the Air Area
    Even when risking heavy losses due to NATO flak in the area, assign a sufficient number of Air Squadrons to it. Each enemy flak will be able to fire one time only, and even in the worst case it will expend ammunition, forcing NATO to ration them during the following WP Action Phase. In any case, remember that the objective is not to have the best squadrons in Air Superiority, as even the worst ones will help in stopping NATO helicopters.

Attack at Overwhelming Odds

As stated in the Designer's Notes, attacker should achieve at least a 5:1 combat ratio, but Combat Modifiers are the real key to a successful attack.
For any important assault, Warsaw Pact Commander should try to achieve a 7:1 ratio with 3 Combat Modifiers in his favor. Anything less will risk to bog down the whole offensive axis and force him to find other solutions. 

In order to obtain this prerequisite, forces must be assigned in relevant number. Detailed descriptions of possible scenarios are given in this Field Manual, but some prerequisites always apply: 
  1. Air Superiority over the Area, or in alternative a heavy flak support to protect attacking forces from enemy air and helicopter squadrons
  2. Support by 2 or more Artillery Brigades
  3. Support by at least 2 Electronic Warfare Units
  4. Support by Attack Helicopters
  5. Suppression of enemy flak via SEAD missions. Even in case of failure, NATO flak will expend precious ammo.
  6. A combat ratio of 10:1 or more in order to convert your numerical advantage into combat modifiers (As Comrade Stalin used to say, quantity has a quality of its own).

Keep Enemy Engaged

Once a Breakthrough has been achieved, WP Commander should exploit it at fastest possible speed in order to obtain two results:
  1. Penetrate deeply in the enemy rear areas
    The objective is forcing NATO to retreat the whole front or to thin out defenses by creating a longer defensive line.
  2. Engage enemy forces and reserves
    Use the Breakthrough Area to move adjacent to enemy forces, in order to keep them pinned and hamper NATO attempts to disengage / maneuver and form a new defensive line. When possible, use low strength Division in order to avoid committing your own Operational Maneuver Group.

Always Attack the Weaker Spot

There's no real geographical objective or position that must be taken immediately in order to achieve at least a Military Victory. Advancing deeply in West German territory, isolating NATO strong-points and finish them off later with second echelon forces could be enough in most cases. 

Consequently, Warsaw Pact Commander should always attack the weakest spot of NATO defense line. In order to identify them, keep in mind that one of the most dangerous assets in NATO arsenal are Electronic Warfare units.

The Assault - Operational Approaches

The following examples will always use the following assumptions:
  • A Cadre Rating of 5 for both sides
  • An average terrain advantage for the defender
  • Air Superiority over the objective
Assigned attack forces are:
  • 3rd Shock Army (4x Tank Divisions plus support units)
  • EG 11th MRD
  • 1x Combat Engineer Bde
  • 6x Mi24 Attack Helicopter Squadrons
  • 16x mixed Air Squadrons
Should Warsaw Pact plans require frontal assaults to positions much stronger than the one used by these examples, please re-read "The Offensive - General Principles".

NATO Brigade with Artillery, no EW, unsupported flanks

1. Starting Situation

Target WG Brigade is supported by Divisional Artillery and several Flak units (1xA, 1xB, 2xC, 1xD). Its flanks are exposed, allowing a 3-pronged assault if needed.

Final objective of the assault is to penetrate enemy defenses and advance toward Weser river. The operation will require at least 4 distinct phases:
  1. A SEAD Mission to suppress enemy air defenses at chosen attack point (hex 3011).
  2. A diversionary attack from hex 3112, in order to position additional artillery and support units.
  3. An attack against WG 20/7 Brigade, in order to achieve the breakthrough.
  4. Follow-up attacks against WG 20/7 Brigade during exploitation.

2. SEAD Mission

To ensure full support from Mi24 Attack Helicopters approaching in NOE flight, the WG A-1 and WG bde D flaks covering the immediate surroundings of the assault area must be suppressed or destroyed. 

A SEAD mission is launched, supported by a Yak28PP ECM squadron. Giving the high number of enemy flaks, strike will be composed by 2 groups of 3 squadrons to ensure that at least one squadron per group will penetrate AA defenses.

SEAD Mission, Flak Fire

Enemy Flak Fire Resolution:
  • SEAD Group 1: 8 avg evasion +4 drm, ECM +1 drm, 3x sqds -3 drm = +2 drm
    D flak: 9 +2, 0-0 hits
    C flak: 6 +2, 0-1 hits
    C flak: 7 +2, 0-1 hits, 7-7-1 sqd aborts due to losses
  • SEAD Group 1: 8 avg evasion +4 drm, ECM +1 drm, 2x sqds -2 drm = +3 drm
    B flak: 7 +3, 1-0 hits
    A flak: 18 +3, 0-0 hits
  • SEAD Group 2: 6 avg evasion +3 drm, ECM +1 drm, 3x sqds -3 drm = +1 drm
    D flak: 19 +1, 0-0 hits
    C flak: 10 +1, 0-1 hits
    C flak: 19 +1, 0-0 hits
    B flak: 8 +1, 1-0 hits, 7-5-3 aborts due to losses
  • SEAD Group 2: 7 avg evasion +3 drm, ECM +1 drm, 2x sqds -2 drm = +2 drm
    A flak: 9 +2, 1-0 hits
NATO air defenses inflicted a total of 3 steps destroyed and 3 steps damaged; a high price, but needed to ensure full support from Mi24 attack helicopters.

SEAD Mission Resolution:

  • SEAD Group 1 strike against A flak
    9 strike, ECM +2 drm, roll 15 +2 = SD, A flak destroyed
  • SEAD Group 2 strike against D flak
    7 strike, ECM +2 drm, roll 10 +2 = S, D flak suppressed
The 4 surviving SEAD squadrons were enough to completely suppress NATO air defenses, with a bit of luck. 

SEAD Strike Resolution

3. Diversionary Attack

A first artillery brigade is moved in hex 3110 to support both the diversionary and the main assault.

East German 11th Motorized Rifle Division conducts a diversionary attack on the Southern flank. The assault is probably bound to fail, but even in that case it will achieve three results:
  1. Block retreat to hex 3012, where the retreating NATO brigade could receive additional support by the WG EW at Gottingen.
  2. Bring an additional EW unit to support the main assault.
  3. Place an artillery brigade in hex 3112, where it could support additional attacks against NATO second line of defense.
EG 11th MRD Diversionary Attack

4. Main Assault

A second support artillery brigade is moved in the hex now covered by EG 11th MRD, and 10th Guards Tank Division advances to hex 3111 for the main attack. 

Assigned support forces are:
  • 3x Artillery Brigades 
  • 1x Combat Engineer Brigade 
  • 2x EW Battalions
  • 2x Mi24 helicopter squadrons

10th Guards Tank Division Main Attack

As the situation is favorable, 10G MRD decides for a Single Echelon Assault, bringing its attack value to 18 x 1.5 = 27. 

Warsaw Pact Electronic Warfare works, halving NATO artillery support. Also, EG 11th MRD will give a Concentric Assault bonus.

Final combat odds and modifiers are:
  • WP attack: 27 attack + 10 artillery + 18 helicopters = 55
  • NATO defense: 4 defense + 1 artillery = 5
  • Combat ratio: 55:5 = 11:1, + concentric assault 12:1, translating into 7:1+ 5 WP combat modifiers
  • WP modifiers: +5 cadre +1 combat eng +5 combat ratio = 11
  • NATO modifiers: +5 cadre +2 minor river -3 WP EW = 4
  • Final modifiers: 4 - 11 = -7

The forces used in the assault could appear almost as overkill, but even in this favorable situation several things could go wrong: 
  • Electronic Warfare support could not work as expected.
  • NATO may decide to bring in top-quality Combat Air Support, challenging the 4xB, 1xC flaks covering the area.
The final combat ratio ensures a D result. NATO could hold the ground taking 2 step losses, but decides for retreat as WP still has artillery ammunition to use and a second assault would probably have the same outcome.

5. Exploitation

10th Guards Tank Division now advances after combat, and NATO moves a Belgian Reserve Brigade to cover up Artillery in hex 2913. Exploitation of the Breakthrough may now have several developments.

If not fatigued, 10th Guards Tank could execute a second attack on the WG Brigade.
Worst case scenario (WP EW not working) would give 10th Guards Tank 50% of a result, and 25% of an A:
  • WP attack: 18 attack + 10 artillery = 28
  • NATO defense: 6 defense + 6 artillery = 12
  • Combat ratio: 2:1
  • WP modifiers: +5 cadre +1 combat eng +2 NoZoc = 8
  • NATO modifiers: +5 cadre = 5
  • Final modifiers: 5 - 8 = -3
Best case scenario (WP EW working) would give 10th Guards Tank 70% of a result, and only 5% of suffering an A:
  • WP attack: 18 attack + 10 artillery = 28
  • NATO defense: 6 defense + 3 artillery = 12
  • Combat ratio: 3:1
  • WP modifiers: +5 cadre +1 combat eng +2 NoZoc = 8
  • NATO modifiers: +5 cadre -3 WP EW = 2
  • Final modifiers: 2 - 8 = -6
Should 10th Guards Tank be fatigued, a Concentric Assault with up to 2 fresh divisions could be a better choice. As WG artillery only has 1 ammo point left, the second attack would have:
  • a worst case scenario of 5:1 combat ratio (28 attack vs 9 defense, plus 2 shift for concentric assault) with -2 combat modifiers, giving a 65% success probability
  • a best case scenario of 6:1 combat ratio (28 attack vs 7 defense, plus 2 shifts for concentric assault) with -5 combat modifiers, giving a 90% success probability

Possible development of exploitation phase

NATO Brigade with EW, Artillery, limited Flank Support

1. Starting Situation

Final objective of the assault is to surround West German troops and support units at hex 2912. The operation will require at least 3 distinct phases:

  1. A diversionary attack from hex 3112, in order to position artillery and support units.
  2. A first attack against WG 20/7 Brigade, in order to achieve a breakthrough.
  3. One or more attacks against WG 21/7 Brigade, in order to complete the encirclement.

Both WG Armored Brigades have EW and artillery support, but the Northern one has no attached Air Defense units as NATO does not have enough mobile flaks to cover the whole front. This makes WG 20/7 brigade the chosen initial target despite the minor river, as no preemptive SEAD mission will be needed.

2. Diversionary Attack

A first artillery brigade is moved in hex 3211 to support both diversionary and main assault.

East German 11th Motorized Rifle Division executes a diversionary attack from hex 3112; the assault is bound to fail, but will achieve three results:
  1. Bring an additional EW unit to support the main assault.
  2. Place an artillery brigade in hex 3112, where it could support additional attacks against NATO second line of defense.
  3. Give a Concentric Assault bonus to the main attacks.
Situation after EG 11th MRD diversionary attack

3. Main Assault

10th Guards Tank Division moves in for the main attack against WG 20/7 Brigade, supported by:
  • 3x Artillery Brigades
  • 2x EW Battalions
  • 1x Combat Engineer Brigade
Additional support will include:
  • 3x Mi24 attack helicopters
  • Surviving ground support air squadrons

A Ground Support Mission is launched before resolving combat, with 9 strike and 1 ECM support squadrons. NATO flak is quite heavy (2xD, 2xC, 1xA, 1xB), so strike squadrons are formed up into 3 Air Groups to better absorb losses.

Main attack, Ground Support Mission

NATO flak resolution:
  • Support Group 1, avg evasion 8 +4drm, ECM sqd +1drm, 3 sqds -3drm = +2drm
    D flak: 16 +2, 0-0
    D flak: 4 +2, 0-1
    C flak: 2 +2, 1-0, 7-7-1 aborts
  • Support Group 1, avg evasion 8 +4drm, ECM sqd +1drm, 2 sqds -2drm = +3drm
    C flak: 16 +3, 0-0
    B flak: 17 +3, 0-0
    A flak: 13 +3, 0-1
  • Support Group 2, avg evasion 7 +3drm, ECM sqd +1drm, 3 sqds -3drm = +1drm
    D flak: 16 +1, 0-0
    D flak: 6+1, 0-1
    C flak: 1+1, 1-1, R-6-0 aborts
  • Support Group 2, avg evasion 8 +4drm, ECM sqd +1drm, 2 sqds -2drm = +3drm
    C flak: 11 +3, 0-0
    B flak: 3 +3, 1-1, 8-8-5 aborts
  • Support Group 2, avg evasion 8 +4drm, ECM sqd +1drm =  +5drm
    A flak: 17 +5, 0-0
  • Support Group 3, avg evasion 7 +3drm, ECM sqd +1drm, 3 sqds -3drm = +1drm
    D flak: 15 +1, 0-0
    D flak: 5 +1, 0-1
    C flak: 19 +1, 0-0
    C flak: 14 +1, 0-0
    B flak: last ammo, NATO choose not to fire
    A flak: 10 +1, 1-0, B-6-3 aborts
  • Attack Helicopters in NOE flight: 6 evasion +3drm, ECM sqd +1drm = +4drm
    D flak: 15 +4, 0-0
    D flak: 18 +4, 0-0
    D flak: 6 +4, 0-0
After flak resolution, 47 ground support factors may be added to the main assault

Main attack by 10th Guards Tank Division

Attack resolution will have the following scenarios:

Worst case scenario (WP EW not working, NATO EW working)
  • WP Attack: 27 single echelon attack + 7.5 artillery + 23.5 ground support = 68
  • NATO Defense: 4 defense + 3 artillery = 7
  • Combat Ratio: 9:1, no concentric assault = 9:1
  • WP Modifiers: +5 cadre +1 combat eng. +2 9:1 combat ratio -3 NATO EW = 5
  • NATO Modifiers: 5 cadre + 2 minor river = 7
  • Combat on 7:1, +2 modifier, 55% D
Most probable case scenario (WP EW working, NATO EW working)
  • WP Attack: 27 single echelon attack + 7.5 artillery + 23.5 ground support = 68
  • NATO Defense: 4 defense + 1 artillery = 5
  • Combat Ratio: 13:1, no concentric assault due to NATO EW = 13:1
  • WP Modifiers: 5 cadre + 1 combat eng. +6 13:1 combat ratio -3 NATO EW = 9
  • NATO Modifiers: 5 cadre + 2 minor river -3 WP EW = 4
  • Combat on 7:1, -5 modifiers, 95% D
Best case scenario (WP EW working, NATO EW not working)
  • WP Attack: 27 single echelon attack + 15 artillery + 47 ground support = 89
  • NATO Defense: 4 defense + 1 artillery = 5
  • Combat Ratio: 17:1, +1 concentric assault  = 18:1
  • WP Modifiers: 5 cadre + 1 combat eng. +11 18:1 combat ratio = 17
  • NATO Modifiers: 5 cadre + 2 minor river -3 WP EW = 4
  • Combat on 7:1, -13 modifiers, 100% D
After combat resulted in a D, NATO decides to retreat as taking 2 step losses would leave the brigade without hopes against a second attack by 10th Guards Tank.

4. Exploitation (low risk approach)

10th Guards Tank Division task is now to advance at maximum speed in the breakthrough, in order to close the Western flank of the pincer. Support units will be left behind to help the follow-up divisions during the second phase of the exploitation.

12th Guards Tank Division advances in the breakthrough hex 3011 and attacks WG 21/7 Brigade to close the Eastern flank of the pincer. Once again, support consists in:
  • 3x Artillery Brigades
  • 2x EW Battalions
  • 1x Combat Engineer Brigade
  • 3x Mi24 attack helicopters
As NATO A-1 flak used up all its ammo against the previous Ground Support mission, attack helicopters approaching Nap-Of-Earth will have to face only a single D flak. 

Exploitation by 12th Guards Tank Division

Attack resolution will have the following scenarios:

Worst case scenario (NATO EW working, WP EW not working)
  • WP attack: 27 single echelon attack + 7.5 artillery + 13.5 helicopters = 48
  • NATO defense: 4 defense + 3 artillery = 7
  • Combat Ratio: 6:1, no concentric assault due to NATO EW = 6:1
  • WP modifiers: +5 cadre +1 combat eng. -3 NATO EW = 3
  • NATO modifiers: +5 cadre modifiers = 5
  • Combat on 6:1, +2 modifiers. 50% D result
Most probable case scenario (NATO EW working, WP EW working)
  • WP attack: 27 single echelon attack + 7.5 artillery  + 13.5 helicopters = 48
  • NATO defense: 4 defense + 1.5 artillery = 5
  • Combat Ratio: 9:1, no concentric assault due to NATO EW = 9:1
  • WP modifiers: +5 cadre +1 combat eng. +2 9:1 combat ratio -3 NATO EW = 5
  • NATO modifiers: +5 cadre modifiers -3 WP EW  = 2
  • Combat on 7:1, -3 modifiers. 85% result
Best case scenario (NATO EW not working, WP EW working)
  • WP attack: 27 single echelon attack + 15 artillery + 27 helicopters = 59
  • NATO defense: 4 defense + 1.5 artillery = 5
  • Combat Ratio: 11:1, +1 concentric assault = 12:1
  • WP modifiers: +5 cadre +1 combat eng. +5 12:1 combat ratio = 11
  • NATO modifiers: +5 cadre modifiers  -3 WP EW = 2
  • Combat on 7:1, -9 modifiers. 100% result

Situation after 12th Guards Tank attack

5. Exploitation (high risk approach)

47th Guards Tank Division advances to Gottingen and executes an Assault From March against WG 21/7 Brigade. 

The attack has only a slim chance to succeed, but NATO forces are now completely isolated and will have to use Embedded Supply in any subsequent combat.
47th Guards Tank closing pincer from South

Even in case of failure, 12th Guards Tank Division may proceed to attack as planned, with WG 21/7 already encircled and low on ammo.

Final attack by 12th Guards Tank Division

Moreover, it will be extremely difficult for NATO to reopen a supply line to WG 7th Division, leaving the encircled brigades and artillery with a critical ammo level during the following WP Action Phase.

Chemical Warfare

If the Political and Strategic situation allows it (See 26.0, Weapons of Mass Destruction Escalation), chemical warfare is a powerful force multiplier that should be used without restrains.

As chemical agents effectiveness will decrease as NATO troops get used to the protection measures needed to avoid high casualties, the decision of when to start chemical warfare is relevant.

If the initial offensive achieved operational surprise (See 51.1, Turn 1 Surprise),  Warsaw Pact should be able to attack in advantageous conditions during the first 48 hours, even without chemical warfare. In this case, chemical warfare should commence from D+2 (Turn 2).

If only tactical or no surprise has been achieved (See 51.2, Turn 2 Surprise), Warsaw Pact Commander may consider to use chemical warfare since the beginning of hostilities.

When using chemical warfare, well positioned SSM-delivered chemicals can be decisive to successfully attack even the strongest NATO positions (See 24.4, Missile-Delivered Chemicals).

Non-persistent chemicals should be the preferred attack method, as persistent chemicals slow down movement of troops exploiting breakthroughs.

Nuclear Warfare

Nuclear warfare is an option to be evaluated carefully, despite its apparent advantages. NATO has powerful nuclear capabilities and is fully prepared for its immediate use on the battlefield.

Moreover, Warsaw Pact typically offers more paying targets for a nuclear strike than NATO due to higher troops density on the Forward Edge of Battle Area and beyond.

Therefore, nuclear weapons should be used only as last resort or as a consequence of orders by the Warsaw Pact Joint Command.

Special Forces

GRU Special Forces are an important asset for Warsaw Pact Front Commander and should not be wasted against secondary targets or risked in ill-conceived operations. 

The simple fact of having special forces ready to be employed forces enemy troops to protect vulnerable assets from a possible assault, thus depriving troops on the front line of precious AA and security assets.

Should a valuable opportunity arise, the Front Commander should not hesitate to employ his available special forces aggressively, even at the risk of losing some of them.

Primary targets for Special Forces operations are, in order of priority:
  1. Electronic Warfare units
  2. Artillery
  3. Attack Helicopters
  4. High value Air Squadrons (ECM, F-111, Tornado, F-15, F-16)

Warsaw Pact Logo By Fenn-O-maniC - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,