Saturday, February 28, 2015

Brigade Commander Play test - version 0.05

For the record, I have the BEST wife in the world.  Over morning coffee, we played a quick game of Brigade Commander version 0.05.

Mrs. Tin Man had a small soviet force of 3 x T-72 companies, and 3 x BMP companies.  Their objective was to seize a town in a gap so that follow on forces could pass through.  I defended with a battalion task force consisting of 2 x M-1 companies and 2 x M-113 companies.

This is the debut of my infantry stands, although I need to flock them still.  I use them to indicate "ready" mechanized infantry or leg infantry.  I'll do some closeups and an explanation why I picked that unusual shape in a future post.

We played the rules as written, and I think the worked really well.  I am starting to get over my ATGM phobia and I think the rules as written handle it nicely.

My only rules recommendation is to update the assault combat factors to match Company Commander so Pinned units are at -1 and Damaged units at -2.

Here we see the Soviets rolling across the line of departure towards their objective.  Mrs. Tin Man rolled a Scurry for he first activation.

We had some significant exchanges of fire the first few turns, and I managed to knock out one of her T-72 companies.

And here I am rolling dice and placing disorder markers on my guys.  She was able to drive back one of my M-1 Companies and force the Infantry Company in the small wood to fall back.  

My wily opponent then occupied the wood with a BMP company...

 ... and began to pour fire into the infantry company occupying the town, damaging it ("Man Down" result")...
... which was then followed up by a close assault by another BMP company.

At this point the defender had lost 1 infantry company and the other was almost routed off the table, so it made sense for the American Battalion commander to fall back and set up a new defense or (more likely under AirLand Battle doctrine) regroup and counterattack the follow on forces from the flank as they move through the gap.

Mrs. Tin Man enjoyed the game and is up for another!  Once she got the "look for 1's or 6's" mechanic it was easy.  Going to try again this weekend with the bigger table and a full MRR in the assault.

All in all, a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

If you are not familiar with the rules, you can find the play test version on The Wargames Website here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Brigade Commander mechanics: I actually read the rules...

Been doing a little reading, first to brush up on how Soviet tactics might have played out on the battlefield.  I have never believed the old hordes of tanks myth, and I have been digging through FM 100-2-1 The Soviet Army Operations and Tactics, 1984, available at that link from the Federation of American Scientists.  Fascinating stuff, especially looking at Regiment and below.  

Not sure how much of this has been proved wrong by information gathered since the end of the Cold War, but I think it is a good resource.  I have been particularly looking at the chapter dealing with artillery tactics.

Also, after some correspondence with Ivan, I realized that I did not have a good enough grip on Company Commander to correctly play test Brigade Commander, so I did something out of character and actually READ the rules!

I discovered I was handling reaction fire incorrectly, so I did a few small run through just to make sure I was getting it correct.

Here is how I am marking combat die results using the excellent markers from Litko.  They have a wide variety to meet any taste, and I rather like them.


First off, I had to clear the cat from the table...
Run #1: M1 Company defending against T-72 battalion with attached BMP company
 

SOVIET TURN: The Soviet player activates and moves one T-72 company forward.  The M-1 Company fires guard fire, 1 Kill die, to no effect.  The T-72 Company fire 1 Kill / 1 Shock when it completes its move, scoring a 1.  The remaining companies roll forward, fire, but to no effect.
US TURN: The US player activates the M-1 Company and rolls a 3 on the kill die, which allows the unit to act normally this turn.  It immediately fires 1 Kill / 1 Shock, disrupting one of the tank companies.
 SOVIET TURN: The Soviet player activates the other tank company, which rolls forward a few inches and fires 1 Kill / 1 Shock and renders the M-1 Company combat ineffective.

Run #2: M901 ITV Company defending against T-72 battalion with attached BMP company

SOVIET TURN: The Soviet player activates his first tank company and moves into range of the ITV's.  Using the new optional ATGM rules:

  1. The ITV's declare fire against the T-72's
  2. The T-72's get to roll a kill die against the ITV's first, no effect
  3. The ITV's then roll their kill die, with no effect.
The next Tank company and BMP company roll forward in turn, the ITV's guard fire again, all to no effect.
 US TURN: The US player activates his company and fires at one of the tank companies again.

  1. The tank company gets 1K dies first, no effect
  2. The ITV fires 1K / 1S and scores a 6 on the kill die!
  3. The ITV company then withdraws directly to its rear

A few observations on Brigade commander now:

  • I like the optional ATGM rules and will continue to play with them.  IFV / ATGM companies with significant numbers of launchers should be able to KO a tank company, BUT getting into a toe to toe shootout is a bad idea if you don;t get them first shot. (or should that be TOW to TOW?  Get it... oh never mind.)
  • I think I am handling movement correctly, you either fire and move or move and fire. So a defender can take a shot and withdraw.
  • Not pictured here, I also fiddled with Recon over the weekend and I like the recon rules as written.  I did suggest some optional rules, but they really don't add anything to the basic structure.
I feel ready to do a full reset and run my bog standard MRR attack again.  But first, I have to get the cats off the table again and Mrs. Tin Man is painting.  Until then, good gaming!




Thursday, February 19, 2015

Brigade Commander playtest 2

I managed to get a few turns of brigade commander in this past weekend and during the cold weather. Once again a Motorized Rifle Regiment (BMP) launches an assault on a 2km wide frontage against a US battalion task force, with the mission to delay the MRR from passing through the town on the western end of the table.

I added recon to the defender and on table, direct fire artillery for the Soviets.

Here is the MRR on the line of departure, ready to launch a hasty attack.  2 up and one back...
Close of of a company of M1's, still in progress, need flock and a matte spray. Went with NATO 3 color camo, but MERDC would probably be appropriate too.

Left flank MRB forced to halt by scout platoon of M3 CFV's

Scouts survive the kill die rolled against them and withdraw back to Armor company position, but the MRB is in engagement range of the tanks.

... And one BMP company rendered combat ineffective.

On the other flank, the MRB is taken under effective fire and a T-72 company is knocked out.

The M1 company back on the other flank was forced to fall back towards the town, and was hit with effective fire afterwards, a 1 on the kill die indicated by the litko explosion marker. 


Here is what the table looked like when I stopped, maybe 30 minutes of actual play time.

Ok, here are my two main observations...

Recon: I like these rules as written, recon works well as a screen for a defender.  Next game, I am going to add recon units to the attacker, and do some recon unit interaction. 

ATGM's: I think Ivan is correct, giving ATGM's on IFV's a kill die against armor is too much.  He had suggested allowing a kill die, but letting the target roll a shock die against the firer first, as ATGM's have a large firing signature and slow flight time.

For my next attempt, I am going to shift slightly, IFV's and dedicated ATGM companies (not infantry with attached ATGM's) will get a kill die against low tech tanks and light AFV's, but not tanks.  IFV's in a shooting match should be pretty bloody, especially when you throw in auto cannons.

Will report how it goes...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Stats and TOE for next Brigade Commander playtest

Going to do another play test of Brigade Commander this weekend, here are the stats I am going to use.
Brigade Commander
Sample TOE, Group of Soviet Forces Germany, ~1985
Stats
T64 / T72 / T80
Move 12”

Fire vs. Infantry: 6” 1K/1S, 12” 1S
Fire vs Armor: 12” 1K/1S
Fire vs Light AFV: 12” 1K/1S
T55 / T62
Move 12”

Targeted at +1K when shot at by modern tanks
Fire vs. Infantry: 6” 1K/1S, 12” 1S
Fire vs Armor: 12” 1K/1S
Fire vs Light AFV: 12” 1K/1S
BMP Infantry
Move 12” or
6” and dismount
Fire vs. Infantry: 6” 2K/1S, 12” 1S
Fire vs All AFV: 12” 1K/1S  (Stationary Only)
Fire versus Light AFV: 6” 1K/1S
Moving over 6” in turn, only fire 1S
BTR Infantry
Move 12” or
6” and dismount
Fire vs. Infantry: 6” 2K/1S, 12” 1S
Fire vs All AFV: 12” 1S  (Stationary Only)
Moving over 6” in turn, only fire 1S
BRDM-3 A/T
Move 12”
Fire vs any vehicle: 12”, 1K, 1S (Stationary Only)
122mm SP Arty
Move 12”
Direct Fire vs. Infantry: 12”, 2S
Direct Fire versus any AFV: 12”, 1S
Indirect fire: See Indirect fire rules (combine batteries, spotted for by RAG FO)
ZSU-23-4

See Helicopter and Air support Rules TBD
SA-9

See Helicopter and Air support Rules TBD
BRDM or BMP-R

See Recon Rules

All  bases are 1.5” square, except those designated as small, which represent roughly platoon sized attachments and are on 1” squares

Motorized Rifle Regiment (BMP)
HQ
• 3 x Motor Rifle Battalions (BMP)
3 x Motor Rifle Companies (BMP)
• 1 x Tank Battalion (MRR)
3 x Tank Companies
• Regimental Artillery Group
3 x 122mm SP Batteries [Small Base]
1 x Forward Observer [Small Base]
• Air Defense Company
1 x ZSU-23-4 [Small Base]
1 x SA-9 [Small Base]
• Recon Company
1 x BMP-R [Small Base]
1 x BRDM [ Small Base]
• Anti-Tank Company
1 x BDRM-3 (AT-5) Company

My design assumption is that the battalion commanders have parceled out battalion level heavy weapons and that is baked into the unit stats.

Now for the Americans...

Sample TOE, US Army, ~1985
Stats
M1
Move 12”

Fire vs. Infantry: 6” 1K/1S, 12” 1S
Fire vs Armor: 12” 1K/1S
Fire vs Light AFV: 12” 1K/1S
M2 Infantry
Move 12” or
6” and dismount
Fire vs. Infantry: 6” 2K/1S, 12” 1S
Fire vs All AFV: 12” 1K/1S  (Stationary Only)
Fire versus Light AFV: +1S
Moving over 6” in turn, only fire 1S
M113 Infantry
Move 12” or
6” and dismount
Fire vs. Infantry: 6” 2K/1S, 12” 1S
Fire vs All AFV: 12” 1S  (Stationary Only)
Moving over 6” in turn, only fire 1S
M901 ITV
Move 12”
Fire vs any vehicle: 12”, 1K, 1S (Stationary Only)
Fire vs Infantry: 6”, 1S
M163 Vulcan
Move 12”
See Helicopter and Air support Rules TBD
Stinger Team
Move 12”
See Helicopter and Air support Rules TBD
M3 CFV

See Recon Rules

All company bases are 1.5” square, except those designated as small, which represent roughly platoon sized attachments and are on 1” squares
Brigade, Armored or Mechanized Infantry Division
HQ
• 1 or 2 Armor Battalions
4 x Armor Companies (M1)
1 x M3 CFV Scout Platoon [Small Base]
• 1 or 2 Mechanized Infantry Battalions
4 x Infantry Companies (M113) or (M2)
1 x Anti-Tank Company (M901)
1 x M3 CFV Scout Platoon [Small Base]
• Attached Air Defense Assets
1-2 x M163 Vulcan [Small Base]
1-3 x Stinger Teams [Small Base]
Brigade will typically have at least 1 battalion (155mm) from divisional artillery in direct support.  It is assumed that fire support teams are distributed across the Brigade and US Company and Platoon leaders are prepared to call and observe fires as well, therefore all artillery support will be off table and any company may call for fire.
Battalion heave weapons, mortars, etc. are assumed to be distributed to maneuver companies.  The only exception is the Anti-Tank company, which is kept together to better model the amount of anti-tank firepower across the battalion.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Soviet Motorized Rifle Regiment (BMP) for 5Core Brigade Commander

I have finished up my MRR (BMP) for 5Core Brigade Commander.  (See last post here) For thos not familiar, check out the links in my last post.  One stand = 1 company or a platoon sized attachment.

I made a few decisions on how to base them up, including:
  • Simple is better than complex
  • Remember that the player is a full colonel or above
  • Not include battalion heavy weapons, I assume that the battalion commanders have distributed them, and they are baked into the unit stats.
  • Some assets do need to be broken out, such as recon and airdefense, as these will be of prime concern to the Regimental commander.
So without further ado, meet my Motorized Rifle Regiment (BMP)  All figures are from O8 via Picoarmor.


The entire MRR on parade

Three battalions of BMP-1 mounted Infantry
(I will also have separate dismount stands, although they are not strictly necessary for 5Core BC)

Tank Battalion of 3 companies

The Regimental Artillery Group (RAG)
Can be deployed together or broken up as individual batteries and parceled out for direct support of the battalions.

Regimental assets: The Anti-Tank Company, Air Defense Company, Regimental Recon Company, and HQ.

I have enough other packs from O8 to convert this to a Tank Regiment and even enough to have the MRR AND another Tank Regiment with a full compliment of Regimental support assets.  Have a pack of Mi-24 Hinds as well, but will not do any more Soviets until I have some American painted and can playtest some more.

I know that T-72's were not deployed with Soviet forces in Germany, instead they had T-64B or T-80.  But 1) T-72's are what I had, 2) It's what the Soviets had in Team Yankee and I have a soft spot for that book, and 3) In 5Core Brigade Commander, they'll stat out the same pretty much.  For purity's sake, I can assume they are from Divisions stationed in the western USSR.

I am going to push some more troops around and re-run my playtest, as well as doing an American Brigade, initially with 2 Armor (M1) and 1 Mechanized Infantry (M113) battalions.

Game on!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

5Core Brigade Commander Play Test

I did a quick play test of Ivan's 5Core Brigade Commander rules yesterday.  Yes, this is distracting me from my WSS painting, but the good news is I am being distracted to another pile of unpainted lead, so I am NOT breaking my pledge to not purchase any new figures in 2015.

You can find the rules here and on the Nordic Weasel Yahoo Group. They are derived from the Company Commander rules and are set at 1 base = 1 company plus smaller bases for attachments.

I kept the scenario simple, set in West Germany, 1985.  No HQ's, no Supply units, just Mechanized infantry and Armor companies, no artillery.

I gave the US a depleted brigade of 3 x companies of M1's and 2 x Companies of Infantry mounted in M113's each with an attached M901 ITV Platoon.   Their mission was to defend a small hamlet in a gap and prevent Warsaw Pact forces from passing through.

The Soviets were a fresh, full strength Motorized Rifle Regiment (BMP) with BMP-1's and T-72's for the Tank Battalion for a total of 3 x Armor Companies and 9 x Mechanized Infantry companies.

(As a side note, you can find a great cold ward TE reference on the Fire and Fury site here.)

I played the rules as written, despite all of the great ideas I had that in retrospect would needlessly complicate the game. Click on the photos to enlarge

The overall situation

Closeup of the MRR, the Tank Battalion has been parceled out to the Motor Rifle Battalions.  Yes, they are unpainted, that will be rectified.  Companies are based on 1.5" squares

M1's (105mm) await the Red onslaught.

End of the game, the MRR had 3 companies combat ineffective, while the Americans had taken a drubbing, losing 2 M1 companies and an infantry company.


I at first was looking for something one level down from Brigade, where I commanded a Battalion, but I have grown to really like this scale of game.  As a Brigade / Regiment commander, I have access to all of the neat attachments I can get from higher levels.

The results felt good, and I judged that the remaining Americans would do well to fall back while the Motor Rifle Regiment plows forward or is passed through by the Division's Tank Regiment to exploit the gap.

ATGM's cannt kill tanks under any circumstances.  While I feel that is ok for APC mounted troops with relatively few launchers, an Infantry Company in Bradley's or BMP's would field a dozen or more long range ATGM's.  I am considering allowing them 1 kill die if they remain stationary.

Also, I forgot to give the American tanks the "overkill" of 2 kill and 1 shock die when firing at the BMP's, so soviet casualties were lower than they probably should have been.

I know this is not a very scientific analysis, but it gave a very fun and fast game.  The risk is that I will be tempted to add too many bells and whistles on top of the rules as written.  Next game I am going to add scouts to each side and see how it goes.  Also considering some sort of bonus for firing at the flank or rear of a unit.  Not so much just because vehicle armor is weaker there, but at this scale, a company taking fire from the rear in conventional operations will not be happy, so maybe and extra shock die?  I will have to fiddle with it.

In the meantime, check out teh Nordic Weasel Yahoo Group above, and buy Ivan's rules!