Monday, February 21, 2011

Weathering the Storm MP - AAR

 

I just finished my first game on the Squad Battles ladder at theblitz.org. I controlled the American side in the ‘Weathering the Storm’ scenario, which covers the battle of Wanat in Afghanistan. There is an earlier post on here where I played this against the CPU.

My plan this time was to eject him from the entrance of the outpost, retrieve the rifle squad that was on patrol outside the outpost and get them back in the wire, and pin/disrupt Taliban elements until the 2 AH-64s en route arrive.

I think the Taliban player can’t afford to be timid in this scenario. He really needs to work over the US side before the AH-64s arrive on station. I imagine about the only way that is going to be possible is through the use of fanatical charge, which I’m not sure my opponent knew about. If he did he never used it.

At first he focused on the main outpost, but I was able to do a decent job on keeping his units pinned or disrupted so his attack stalled there. I was able to eliminate the insurgents at the entrance of the outpost and was able to collect the squad that was outside the wire, rally them, and get them back in the outpost. I lost 1 HMMWV to enemy fire, but the rest were active the entire game. After a while, he started to focus on the observation post to the east, but once my AH-64s arrived they quickly moved to disrupt that attack.

I hit one of his stacks with a 500lb bomb from a B1-B, but I don’t know how effective the strike was casualty wise. I had called in an A-10, but accidently cancelled it, and couldn’t get them on station before the game ended.

Here is what the battle looked like at the end:

wanat-mp

I did a much better job this game utilizing my leaders to rally units. I also made use of the ability to drop and pick up items, to have the last 3 soldiers at the OP all pick up the squad’s support weapons in place of their rifles to lay down heavier fire on the 2 formations attacking them. I used it to keep up the SAW in another squad as well.

My opponent ended up offering surrender at his 14th turn and I accepted. This is what the victory dialog looked like at the time:

wanat-mp-victory

The question marks are because the game isn’t technically over. So there were 120-130 casualties for the Taliban side, to the 23 for the US.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Origins of the World War

 

I finally buckled down and finished reading the last 200 pages of Sidney Fay’s Origins of the World War Volume 1: Before Sarajevo this week. I had been reading it intermittently over the span a probably 2 years, restarting it at some point when I had left it alone for too long. The book discusses the diplomatic maneuvering that takes place in Europe from the times of the Franco-Prussian war up until the assassination in Sarajevo in 1914. The book came to my attention because of Alan Calhammer. Calhammer is the person who designed the game Diplomacy, which is about the politics of Europe prior to the First World War. He has stated that both this book was an inspiration for designing the game, as well as a class he took at Harvard that was taught by Sidney Fay.

The main thing that comes out of the book, which is considered normal now, but was new when the book was originally published in the 30s is that Germany wasn’t the main party responsible for the war even though at the end of the war she was assigned all the blame. If you want to understand how the situation in Europe got to a point where the assassination would cause such a horrific war, this book is a good place to start.

Books read this year: 3

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Terror at Borisov – Lessons Learned

 

I just finished my last turn in my first PBEM game on the Campaign Series ladder at theblitz.org . I was playing the German side against another player’s Russians. The scenario was Terror at Borisov. It is a meeting engagement between a Soviet MRD with T-34, KV-1, and KV-2 support against a Panzer Regiment with a mix of PzIIs, PzIIIs, and PzIVs. All the victory locations showed Russian control initially, so I pressed for to take the 2 villages in the center, and lower center sections of the map. My initial, rather superficial plan was to grab those locations and then probe and engage his tanks. I knew from the scenario description he would have T-34s and KVs with him, but no idea of the strength. I had sent my motorcycle units to recon to the east and try to get eyes on his troop movements.

A couple of initial lessons:

1. Come up with a more thought out plan, including objectives, who the main effort is, who will be in reserve.

2. In addition to mission analysis (looking at objectives of the scenario and such) spend some time on terrain analysis and looking at what is visible from where to get a better idea for sighting.

3. If you have some idea of what kinds of units to expect do some analysis and research in the manuals to see how units compare.

I knew that he was going to have some tough tanks with him, but I didn’t realize they could outrange my guns. So in order to defeat his T-34s I would have to close in, taking opp fire, and engage. In our initial engagement I tried to handle his opp fire by offering PzIIs up for sacrifice. Once his opp fire was expended on them I would then move up my other tanks to try and engage. I was still engaging from too far away. I needed to see the white of their eyes before firing if I wanted to get good kills.

We had a good battle in the south, but I deviated from my plan and started reacting to his KVs instead of focusing on the victory requirements of the mission. So I detailed 2 Pz coys to head north and meet his KVs when they came out of the woods and took them out of the picture of helping secure my hold of the center of the map and pushing further east to possibly capture the other 2 victory locations. I could have detailed a platoon to screen the north while the rest of my force concentrated in the middle to meet his main thrust. Instead he was able to defeat my counterattacks in the center in turn instead having them hit him at the same time.

More lessons learned:

4. Another lesson was related to the game interface. You can control the opp fire of your units, setting what they will fire on and at what range. This will stop your tanks from wasting shots on infantry when you want them to shoot at other armor. I wondered about it, but didn’t figure out how it was done until the game was effectively over.

5. Leaders only effect units that are subordinate to them, so check to make sure leaders are in the right place.

6. Study up in the manual on HQs and supply and how they work. I’m not sure I utilized them properly.

7. Be careful with stacking. I tended to move my units as company size elements, with the occasional platoon venturing out on its own to draw opp fire. There were some times where I lost a large number of tanks in single attacks because of that.

Overall, even though it ended in defeat for my regiment with them straggling back west towards Borisov it was a very fun game, and I am looking forward to playing more and learning. My main objectives this round were to get some experience in, and learn some of the interface.