A long weekend and time for a game on Saturday evening of Modern Spearhead, and what a fine game it was.
The Soviets complete with BMPs and BTRs launched a considered attack on the British who conducted a flexible defence. Supported by tanks the Soviets struggled to gain traction initially, but as additional battalions were committed so the British defenders came under increasing pressure.
Realising the Soviet plan the British commander ordered forward one then two battalions. Now, while Chieftains and FV432s lurched forward in counter-attacks artillery observers directed coordinated fires in support of mechanised infantry in a desperate effort to breakup the Soviet attack.
Yet would the Soviet Hind helicopters wreck havoc on the British defenders around Erlabrunn?
A short report of this excellent game can be found here.
There seems to be a bit of a theme here at the moment with two additional Modern Spearhead games being played over recent weeks. As always I find the Spearhead stable of rules produce both extremely enjoyable games, but ones that model well the layers of command and combat of the period very well. Yet for some reason, which really escapes me, Spearhead or indeed Modern Spearhead are not the most popular games around.
Anyway, that aside our two recent games were first class. First up Andrew and I deployed our forces for a clash between my West Germans and Andrew’s Soviets in an excellent 1982 scenario. Instead of deploying his Soviet Naval Infantry, as I expected him to, Andrew opted for a second rate armour heavy Soviet force which deployed the better part of two full regiments. Then, advancing on a narrow frontage, the Soviets advanced sweeping aside the outnumbered West Germans. A fascinating game from start to finish. Follow the link to a short report of the game Achtung Panzer.
Two weeks later Robin and I faced each other in another game, also set in 1982. Robin fielded his British which he operates extremely effectively in a defensive posture while I fielded my Soviets. Another fascinating game was the result. Again the game well illustrated the strengths of the rules. Reconnaissance, planning, resource allocation, combined arms all played a significant part. A short report outlining Golubev’s Gamble, can be found here.
I need to start thinking about another game…
Taking advantage of a long weekend Andrew and I decided to deploy our forces for another Modern Spearhead encounter on Saturday, set as often the case set in 1982. Well in advance we started planning for the scenario. With Andrew opting to field a Soviet force I would field either my West Germans or French. After changing my mind a few times I opted for the French.
As regular readers know we use a Scenario Generation System to balance our Modern Spearhead games. Part of the Scenario System is a points process that helps balance the various scenario elements. As the French AMX-30 tanks and AMX-10P combat teams are expensive, especially when NATO command and control is considered, hard choices must be made. I decided to take considerable artillery assets which I hoped would allow French to win the artillery war. Then as the ground attack gained momentum French fixed wing air assets wold deliver critical blows against Soviet counter-attacks.
Now, I was expecting to deploy against conventional Soviet forces, though likely operating older equipment, such as T-55s. To my surprise Andrew had been painting and opted for a Soviet Naval Infantry force. So while he fielded a few T-55s there were more PT-76s supporting his BTRs with a range of naval aircraft and helicopters.
The result was an encounter on the NATO Baltic flank. Following the landings of Soviet Naval Infantry on the Denmark coast Western forces moved rapidly to prevent the expansion of the Soviet beachhead. Electronic warfare, SAM suppression, counter-battery fires, deep flank marches, dramatic road dashes and air support were some of the significant events in the unfolding action as French forces pressed their attacks while Soviet forces attempted to consolidate their initial gains. A report of the action, supported by a series of photos, can be found here.
Enthused by our last Modern Spearhead game Robin, Andrew and I penciled in our next encounter which took place, as planned, last Saturday evening.
After the relatively poor Soviet showing in our previous game I spent several hours contemplating possible Soviet force structures. We use the Scenario Generation System to generate our games and a component of this is creating a list which is modified by adding options. This time I made several changes to both the defend and attack lists creating further variety. Yet my concerns regarding my British opponent, well equipped with tanks, infantry, artillery and air assets remained.
Ideally you want a balanced force with the various components supporting each other. Of course making all this work on the battlefield is difficult. Your plan must merge these various component parts to overcome the enemy forces with due consideration to time, space and economy of force. With the Scenario Generation System there never seems to be sufficient forces, a design feature, which ensurers players must often make difficult choices on what to include and as importantly, what not to include.
As it transpired in our most recent game the Soviets were on the offensive and opted for a Hasty Attack. After significant discussion between both Soviet commanders a plan, based on limited reconnaissance, was issued to the various combat elements and the allocation of support element from division and above made. Then the Soviet forces were unleashed.
A report of this most enjoyable game, “The Drive on Mantinghausen” can be found here.
It has been far too long since I’ve played a Modern Spearhead game so it was good to place the models on the table and refresh myself with the rules last night. There is no doubt the rules are more complex than Spearhead, due to the more complex battlefield. However, this complexity provides many layers of depth as players shape the battlefield.
In our game for example the British player, having organised his forces for a hasty attack on Soviet defenders, conducted a series of electronic warfare attacks that located various SAM systems so they could be progressively neutralised for upcoming air attacks. Counter-battery assets were focussed on the detection and rapid destruction of Soviet artillery assets reducing their impact on the limited British ground forces.
Soviet assets, limited due to heavy casualties and dispersed due to tactical requirements, needed to be protected for maximum benefit in critical phases of the battle. Consideration needed to be given to likely enemy routes of advance and supporting defensive positions adopted to maximise firepower. Reserves, even when limited, need to formed and maintained to ensure an ability to react to a flexible enemy.
You can read a little about our most recent game involving the defence of Neuwallwitz on my Modern Spearhead blog.