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. ;)