Assault on Willengen: 14 August 1984 / Northag Playtest

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Hincmar
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Assault on Willengen: 14 August 1984 / Northag Playtest

Post by Hincmar » Fri Apr 27, 2018 8:18 am

During the second week of the Great Summer Offensive by WARPAC in 1984, mechanised battlegroups moved quickly to exploit gaps in the crumbling NATO frontline after the first wave's successful attack. NATO high command frantically threw their armoured reserves at the WARPAC spearheads, resulting in a series of swirling, bitterly fought encounters across Central Germany. Whoever seized the high ground, road network and town areas held the upper hand.

In our latest Northag play-test (but the first using 20mm scale rather than micro-armour), we played a meeting engagement scenario on a 6 x 8' table. Each side selected up to 1,000 points from their list, of which no more than 500 points arrived on Turn 1. The remaining force was kept in reserve, with each player rolling 1D6 for reinforcements at the beginning of his turn, starting from Turn 3.

A view of the board, with the outskirts of Willengen in the top right corner.

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OBJECTIVES: the Church, the crossroads in the centre of the board and the front-centre of the large hill. The all-objectives secured rule was not in play.

OUT-SCOUTING PHASE: before the game started, each player counted the number of reconnaissance units in his force (not including snipers) and added 1D6. The winner could place 1D3 units anywhere on the board except within 10" of an objective, and chose which side went first in each turn. The non-initiative player decided which edge of the table he would start from (choosing any of its four sides).

WARPAC SPECIAL RULE: NATO's C3 capability is in chaos due to the fragmentation of its lines. After the NATO player has rolled for his orders in any single turn, the WARPAC player rolls 2D6 and subtracts the result from the total orders available to NATO for that turn.

NATO SPECIAL RULE: Artillery strike. NATO high command intervenes to disrupt the overstretched WARPAC spearheads by bringing deploying its artillery assets. Use an order to make a Communications Roll and call in a salvo from one of the off-board artillery units in the relevant list (NATO player's choice).

Chris (Boroda), playing WARPAC, won the out-scouting phase and deployed a BMP-1 atop a hill near the town and Church. He decide to take the initiative, leaving Mausman to select the table edge opposite Willengen. This turned out to be a wise move as it meant that NATO could quickly invest Willengen and build up a defensive perimeter whilst WARPAC tried to get across the longer width of the board.

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Mausman had brought along a Bundeswehr force which looked chunky indeed. Those Leopard 2s...

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The WARPAC force.

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Boroda sent a unit of BMPs down the left towards the hill whilst a platoon of T-80s probed towards the cross roads.

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Mausman led with his armoured fist, the Leopard 2s. In the background, Soviet riflemen disembarked from their BMP-1 and assaulted the Church objective.

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The T-80's cautiously picked their way through the hamlet.

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A firefight developed on the hill with a Bundeswehr squad pinning the attacking Soviet riflemen.

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The Leopards chalked up their first victim as the lone BMP went up in flames.

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Bundeswehr troops held off their Soviet assailants and secured the Church.

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Led by a BRDM, Soviet tanks continued to push forward.

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To their pleasant surprise, the hamlet fell without a shot.

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But further forward things swiftly changed.

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The first T-80 went up in flames as the Leopards locked in their sights.

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The Soviets continued to push down the road and secured the central cross roads objective.

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Only for another T-80 to fall victim to a Leopard.

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From this overhead shot, you can see the BRDM move left off the road into the wheatfields.

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The other T-80s sought cover in the woods.

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A Shilka moved on to the board in readiness for any NATO air strike.

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The Leopard 2s went into ambush mode but saw a supporting Marder blow up next to them.

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From this overhead reconnaissance shot, you can see how the two forces got to grips with each other at the midway point in the game. The NATO defence around Willengen was looking impregnable.

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Another T-80 fell victim to the feline monsters.

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A third struck a mine...

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But the hill objective fell to the Soviet riflemen. A Bundeswehr armoured car burns in the foreground.

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In the final move of the game, Mausman piled his Leopards forward. The BRDM was swiftly gobbled up.

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This shot shows the final positions on the board as NATO units secured the road nexus around Willengen.

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We called the game a draw: WARPAC had secured two out of three objectives but would find it difficult making further progress across table without heavy casualties. Part for the course really in this theoretical Cold War Gone Hot scenario.

There was also plenty of time for some great chat as we hadn't caught up for a while, and a useful de-brief on the rule set itself. The feedback is hugely positive and thanks once again must go to Richard for the Herculean effort he has put into this project.

Constructive thoughts for further reflection:

- at this scale (compared to our micro-armour games play-testing this set), the game must be scenario driven to work well. Lining up two large forces at 1,000 points each even on a 6 x 8' table and telling them to blat each other to death will result in a car park.

- it struck me that NATO assets were too cheap compared to their WARPAC counterparts. It might just be the size of the Bundeswehr kit (especially those Leopard 2s), but it didn't seem like WARPAC had any real chance of punching through once NATO got into position. It seems to me that in a fluid, post-breakthrough exploitation phase, NATO must be totally up against it and reliant on a wider variety of assets to try to hold positions and dent the on-coming WARPAC spearheads, rather than just lining up a wall of what are essentially Tiger 2s that will inevitably pulverise even the best WARPAC kit.

- developing the scenario-driven theme, I would be tempted not only to give NATO less points even in a meeting engagement game, but also to limit the number of tanks that they can have, possibly by adopting the restrictions that the Fall Of The Reich supplement gives to German tank platoons on the Western front.

- We think that unless the WARPAC force is elite, they should suffer the same limitations in terms of orders as the Russians in the Kursk supplement, with officers limited to company and senior HQ units, but getting URA URA and STAL STAL STAL orders. Additionally, Chris suggested that WARPAC platoons be subject to some sort of command radius restriction, e.g. 12 inches, with units that are outside that radius (not including subordinate HQ and recce units) limited to the kinds of order that can be given (e.g. can only move or fire, not combine such actions, and cannot be given reaction orders).

- Mausman wondered whether additional armour technology such as ERA is properly reflected: is it built into the armour data?

- the old bugbear of to hit rolls for ATGs. High calibre guns were missing at ranges where modern technology would give a high probability of a hit. The various modifiers that Richard has added result in a multiplicity of DRMs that reminds me of the old Quick Reference Sheet for the Squad Leader module, Cross of Iron. My suggestion would be to try out a D8 for guns firing AP or HE in direct fire mode.

- Also, or alternatively, I would suggest trying out a Target Acquisition rule, whereby a gun firing on the same target in successive fire phases receives a +1 to it if it has not moved between the two phases and the target has remained within its Line of Sight.

These are all just ideas and don't detract from a great piece of work for the community. Indeed, we like it so much that we have switched our annual Big Game in June from Market Garden to Northag, using micro-armour for an epic, brigade level affair.
Last edited by Hincmar on Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mausmann
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Re: Assault on Willengen: 14 August 1984 / Northag Playtest

Post by mausmann » Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:33 pm

Many thanx for the pics and AAR mate, much appeciated.... thmbs2)

It was a great game for sure, and good to get a game in using Richard's rules.

Chris did indeed win the scouting phase, but chose to place his D3 units and elect for me to go first. In return I had the decision of which table side to enter on.

I picked wisely as it turned out, as you say it gave me a good defensive position early on in the game. I had no idea of the capabilities of the Leopard 2A4 at the start of the game, nor the Soviet T-80, so I wanted to trade a few shots early on and see how things performed. Chris was equally in the dark, but to his credit played like a true Soviet, with T-80s charging forward initially.
The Leopard 2A4 is practically invulnerable from the front, so it will need to be flanked to be taken out. it will need some good game design to cope with if used in any numbers.

I played poorly however on the right flank once Chris had taken the hill objective. My final reinforcements were deployed there in a vain attempt to assault it, but this was never a really viable proposition. I had forgotten the basic tenet of not reinforcing failure. If they had been deployed into the village on the left, they would have been in an ideal place to break cover with the Leo 2s once they had cleared the way, and be able to contest the crossroads. Lesson relearnt.

I thought the Leo 2s were reasonably expensive to be honest, with the alternative being at least 2 x Leo 1 instead. That said I have no idea how they compare with Soviet tanks though.

The Special rules were a great surprise to both sides! We both took them in our stride however, and both avoided the Chair Of Despair!

I thought the Modern rules worked well, and the lists generated a decent force for the points. As Fred says the old bugbear of a D6 to hit reared it's ugly head. I do think that the acquisition modifier and a D8 to hit dice will solve that and make the game play more how we expect it to, and will try that out soonest. For sure it will improve the performance of ATGMs which really seemed to struggle imho.

Funniest points of the game for me were when I managed to get off two hits into a BRDM-2 from a Leo 1A5, and just needed anything more than a three to destroy it........I roll up three on two dice twice...... :lol:

Also later in the game Fred persuaded me to open fire at something less worthy instead of waiting on ambush to fire at a Soviet T-80, (better to be on ambush as it negates the "target not fired" category), uttering the immortal phrase, " It doesn't matter, Chris will never roll a 6 with the T-80 anyway......." Need I say any more?....... :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Absolutely great fun with the best of gamers. Many thanx to Fred for hosting, and to Chris and Simon for being such great opponent and observer respectively. Finally to Richard for the Rules, a superb set..... thmbs2)

Looking forward to the next one...... ;)
Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes in the wind, and sometimes against it, but sail we must, and not drift nor lie at anchor.

dead1
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Re: Assault on Willengen: 14 August 1984 / Northag Playtest

Post by dead1 » Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:21 am

Awesome stuff. Really enjoyed reading this.

Just on the Leo 2 - recent Turkish experience in Syria shows that the older variants (2A4) are vulnerable even to older ATGMs. Numerous Leo 2 s have been destroyed in combat including something like 6-8 in a single assault against insurgents.

The Turks mainly use their tanks as long range fire support. (Though some analysis shows that most hits are on right flank, I did see some footage on two Leo 2s in revetments being smashed frontally).

So maybe the Leo 2's armour should be reduced?

Oh and who makes the cool church terrain piece?

Hincmar
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Re: Assault on Willengen: 14 August 1984 / Northag Playtest

Post by Hincmar » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:35 am

Thanks - and interesting input on the L2.

Church is, I believe, an old kit by Hornby. At least, I purchased it around 2003 in the train section of Modelzone. Bit too English looking for Germany but I do like it.

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RichardC
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Re: Assault on Willengen: 14 August 1984 / Northag Playtest

Post by RichardC » Sun Apr 29, 2018 12:15 am

Hi Guys

Thanks for posting up the great AAR. I really appreciate you taking the effort to playtest the game and then post up all those lovely pics. I really loved the look of the game and all that awesome kit running about.

Onto the comments:
- at this scale (compared to our micro-armour games play-testing this set), the game must be scenario driven to work well. Lining up two large forces at 1,000 points each even on a 6 x 8' table and telling them to blat each other to death will result in a car park.
- developing the scenario-driven theme, I would be tempted not only to give NATO less points even in a meeting engagement game, but also to limit the number of tanks that they can have, possibly by adopting the restrictions that the Fall Of The Reich supplement gives to German tank platoons on the Western front.
I 100% agree that in 20mm the game needs to be scenario driven otherwise you just end up with 2 tank parks facing each other. I strive to do that in our games and generally putting in a little effort up front is well worth it. I like the scenario specific rules you used in the game and have done similar in some of ours.

Last big bash we played the NATO defending force had less points than the Soviets and still managed a draw - I think your FOTR point has merit.
- it struck me that NATO assets were too cheap compared to their WARPAC counterparts. It might just be the size of the Bundeswehr kit (especially those Leopard 2s), but it didn't seem like WARPAC had any real chance of punching through once NATO got into position. It seems to me that in a fluid, post-breakthrough exploitation phase, NATO must be totally up against it and reliant on a wider variety of assets to try to hold positions and dent the on-coming WARPAC spearheads, rather than just lining up a wall of what are essentially Tiger 2s that will inevitably pulverise even the best WARPAC kit.
I've recently started to do something about that and have reduced a number of the Soviet tanks points cost. Maybe some of the NATO big hitters also need to be increased. I'll have to admit I've gone through a phase of using second rate forces recently and need to spend more time playing games like yours. I'll publish the revised Soviet lists this week hopefully.
- We think that unless the WARPAC force is elite, they should suffer the same limitations in terms of orders as the Russians in the Kursk supplement, with officers limited to company and senior HQ units, but getting URA URA and STAL STAL STAL orders. Additionally, Chris suggested that WARPAC platoons be subject to some sort of command radius restriction, e.g. 12 inches, with units that are outside that radius (not including subordinate HQ and recce units) limited to the kinds of order that can be given (e.g. can only move or fire, not combine such actions, and cannot be given reaction orders).
The new Orders/Battle Drill rules should resolve this. Would be keen for you to try them out as they severely reduce orders available to the Soviets and restrict the number of Officers. The one game we've played using these new rules plus using Battle Drill worked well - but it needs more playtesting at lower level games for sure.
- Mausman wondered whether additional armour technology such as ERA is properly reflected: is it built into the armour data?
Reactive Armour is an AFV trait - but only makes a difference vs HE and ATGM hits (roll a D6 and add that to your armour value)
- the old bugbear of to hit rolls for ATGs. High calibre guns were missing at ranges where modern technology would give a high probability of a hit. The various modifiers that Richard has added result in a multiplicity of DRMs that reminds me of the old Quick Reference Sheet for the Squad Leader module, Cross of Iron. My suggestion would be to try out a D8 for guns firing AP or HE in direct fire mode.

- Also, or alternatively, I would suggest trying out a Target Acquisition rule, whereby a gun firing on the same target in successive fire phases receives a +1 to it if it has not moved between the two phases and the target has remained within its Line of Sight.
Yes this is an issue - but with a Leo 2A4 you get a serious amount of modifier (hence the reference to Squad Leader!) - so you are always +1 to shot and +1 to hit. Add to that the new NATO Proficient crew special rule and in on round of shooting per game you could essentially be +2 to hit or take 3 shots instead of 2 at +1 to hit. Trust me - that really hurts. I lost 6 BMP-1s to two Chieftain Mk 11 in one round of shooting due to this.

I'm not 100% sure my approach is the best approach and maybe a shift to D8 or D10 would be better... Happy to be convinced!

Thanks again for posting

Richard

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RichardC
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Re: Assault on Willengen: 14 August 1984 / Northag Playtest

Post by RichardC » Sun Apr 29, 2018 12:18 am

Just on the Leo 2 - recent Turkish experience in Syria shows that the older variants (2A4) are vulnerable even to older ATGMs. Numerous Leo 2 s have been destroyed in combat including something like 6-8 in a single assault against insurgents.

The Turks mainly use their tanks as long range fire support. (Though some analysis shows that most hits are on right flank, I did see some footage on two Leo 2s in revetments being smashed frontally).

So maybe the Leo 2's armour should be reduced?
That is interesting. My understanding was that the Turkish Leo 2A4s were being knocked out by some of the more modern ATGMs rather than 1980s era missiles. I'll have to look more into that.

You maybe right re a reduction needed in Leo 2A4 armour. It is quite confusing trying to see if it is Chobham or not.

Richard

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Re: Assault on Willengen: 14 August 1984 / Northag Playtest

Post by Bob_Mackenzie » Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am

I have looked through what I have on the Leo-2A4 armour. There is this which is un-sourced - I picked it up in 2002 so there may well be better info out there,

In general there a many estimates out there it rather depends on who you believe

Cheers

Bob
Protection ratings are indeed scarce, but there have
been several comparisons:

* About all sources dealing with the M1/Leo2 selection
process (e.g. Hunnicut) say that the Leo 2 had inferior
protection compared to the Abrams.

* P. W. Krapke (civilian head of Leo 2 development) in
his book, says that the Leo 2 AV fullfilled the
American protection requirement (about 300 mm KE and
700 mm CE) fully on the turret and only partially on
the hull - IMHO, that just means the coverage of the
heavy side skirts extends farther rearwards and
downwards on the Abrams.

* Krapkes book contains a graphic saying that Leo 2's
most heavily protected part of turret could be penetrated by
T-62 from 1000 m and by T-72 from 1800 m (unspecified
rounds).

* The official wording of the swiss tank evaluation says
that the Leo was inferior to the Abrams in terms of
protection.

* A MILTECH article of 1988 says that A4 protection will
have to be upgraded again in order to meet the competition
by DU-armoured M1's, and that 'the competition is deriding
the Leo for its inferior protection'.

* Another MILTECH article on the british tank selection
process (leading to procurment of Challenger 2) says
that 'one of 4 contenders didn't meet the british
protection requirement, but could be upgraded to do so'.
The only contender with a protection upgrade in the
pipeleine at the time (1990) was the Leo 2.

* Rolf Hilmes (who worked for MOD on the Leo 2 follow-on
projects) says that original Leo 2 was superior to early
T-72 variants in particular with respect to CE protection,
but inferior to later ones with reactive armour.
Also

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Timotheus
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Re: Assault on Willengen: 14 August 1984 / Northag Playtest

Post by Timotheus » Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:26 pm

If there were FB type emoticons, my pick would be "Love".

That is all. :)
Tim (Blame Canada)

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mausmann
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Re: Assault on Willengen: 14 August 1984 / Northag Playtest

Post by mausmann » Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:55 am

Managed to get some brief info yesterday ref Syria and Leo 2s. It does seem to appear that the inept tactical use of the Leo 2 has exposed it’s flaw, ie very weak side armor.
It was simply not designed to be driven at the enemy. Keep frontal armor to the enemy, fast movement from defensive position to defensive position, and no mention of charging across the plains towards the Russian hordes of T-80s......if it had done for sure the result would not be a happy one.
If caught on the side in Richard C’s rules then the result will be the same as in Syria..... thmbs2)
Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes in the wind, and sometimes against it, but sail we must, and not drift nor lie at anchor.

Hincmar
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Re: Assault on Willengen: 14 August 1984 / Northag Playtest

Post by Hincmar » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:10 am

Thanks for that - very useful. Tends to reinforce the thoughts about (a) scale perception (b) the need for width on the board and (c) possibly introducing (scenario driven) limits to the number that can be deployed in a game. Will give it some thought.

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