I wanted to post this AAR as I was quite pleased I managed to hold off a better player in a PBEM game over the Xmas holidays.
Some of you may know my opponent, Panzer_Leader, who makes accurate and challenging Cold War
scenarios for Steel Beasts Pro PE. He has great attention to detail, a real tactical brain and a is very thorough and thoughtful player. I’ve played him a few times in this game and he’s probably spanked me 4 times out of 5.
The scenario is Soviet Punch, a reworked Germany Reforged scenario. It centres on Westerbruk on an
alternative May 7 1989. We have 6 hours to play. I’m defending as NATO (West German Forces) and Panzer_Leader is playing Red.
From the briefing:
“The Soviet strategic plan concentrated on attacking REFORGER sites in conjunction with heavy attacks by their best units on the British and American forces. This would make it much harder for NATO to resupply and rebuild those units and then the native West German Army could be destroyed at leisure. Consequently many of the West German units faced weaker attacks than their NATO allies for the first few days of the war and 23rd Panzer Battalion was fortunate to face a Soviet unit which was “Guard” in name only.”
I have to hold Westerbruck from a Warsaw Pact attack.
Having played Panzer_Leader before I knew he’d play smarter than a frontal thrust. I expected, in order of likelihood:
A big left hook to my south, with the possibility of an even deeper penetration, appearing suddenly in my rear;
A right hook, infiltrating through the forests to my north flank and appearing suddenly on my flank for a big push south;
a covered frontal thrust through the forests north of the two road bridges, avoiding main roads and making use of the fording capability of a lot of Red AFVs.
Here’s the situation as the scenario starts. Second company is up front, with 3 and 4 companies in reserve to north and south, ready to respond once I know Red’s intent. There’s good roads to let my forces relocate quickly.
I’ve put a tripwire of 2 tank troops (Leo 2A1) to cover and detect the centre and north thrusts, and a troop south of the 3,000 point objective (the HQ troop a bit west). I’ve got three companies of Panzer Grenadiers, mounted in M113s. At the start I have two of them on the two bridges on the roads into Westerbruck from the east, ready to blow them as soon as possible. The third (2/2nd) is on the 4,000 point objective in the middle of town.
For support I have an on-map self-propelled mortar troop (120mm) and off-map I have 4 flights of Alpha jets, loaded for CAS, and two companies of M109 SP 155mm arty, with smoke and HE. Crucially no FASCAM or ICM ammo is available.
Right from the start we are in contact with IFVs to our front, on the two main roads west. They are well within range of my tanks and they start taking losses. One thing I know about my opponent is that if he shows me a move on a conventional corridor, its either a probe to test what I’ve got, or its a deliberate feint to attract my attention.
After the first hour, we are still only in contact with two IFV units in BMPs pushing west. We are hitting them with direct fire and artillery but we are not seeing any tanks or movement on other axes. I know Panzer_Leader knows how effective my Leopards will be at long range, so I expect these units are intended to soak up my ammo (I can’t give hold fire orders, or tell my units to prioritise tanks for instance). Timing resupply is going to be critical.
I’ve moved my infantry to the west as part of my tripwire line and brought forward one Leopard troop of 3 company to support 3/2 troop and cover it during resupply.
After 1.5 hours, I’m getting increasingly nervous that my attention is being held to the east even though a combination of artillery and direct tank fire is dishing out some punishment to Red. I’m still thinking I’m most vulnerable to the south, so I move one troop of infantry to cover the road to the south past Lautersee lake.
Heading into 1.5 hours our SigInt detects a likely Red HQ a long way east. I send one flight of Alpha jets, which in attacking (and getting shot down) unmasks a bunch of reserve units and SAMs well to the east.
Just at hour 2 my northernmost tripwire unit (1/2 troop) detects a SAM unit (SA-14 Gremlin) creeping around the northern flank. Assuming this is more than just a probe I start shifting units of 4 Co. east to strengthen this flank.
This Gremlin unit was an absolute thorn in my side for the next few hours. The vehicles were quickly destroyed, but some surviving dismounts soaked up lots of tank ammo and attention.
Meanwhile after 2.5 hours, BMPs are spotted on our southern flank, using minor roads to get around my right flank. I hit them hard with artillery and direct fire, and shift a troop from 3 Co. panzers south.
Just on hour 3, things change. I use another flight of Alpha jets to hit some of his units in my south and get a recon bonus - he has lots of units heading north, including tanks. So maybe the northern move is a feint as well and his main intention is a left flanking attack. I have high ground to the west and my tanks are well dug in, so I think I can cover this attack without having to get my 3 Co. tanks too close.
At this point my tank strength is intact, so I’m feeling confident. But I know fast-moving Red tanks in numbers, supported by BMPs, could overwhelm my Leopards ammo supply.
At this point, Red artillery begins in earnest. My Bn HQ is detected and brassed up and my Mortar troop takes a pasting. Rain sets in and my Alpha jets are grounded at a critical juncture.
Nothing much changes in the tactical picture in a big way for the next 1.5 hours. Lots of red artillery, but no more sight of enemy units in the south. I’m probing areas I can’t see with arty and wondering where the tanks are. At 4.46 hours in, a Company of Red T80s are spotted on my north flank! Now things are heating up!
In the next half hour a T80 company appears in the south, driving hard with a big force of BMPs (with their dangerous ATGMs) in support. The BMPs melt away in the face of fire from my Leopards and 155mm artillery, and his T80s take major casualties, but they also hit my Leopards hard and force themselves onto the southern objective!
In the north, I’ve plastered the area with smoke hoping to blind the red tank gunners, but it turns out these are T80-UMs, with thermals. Nevertheless, the northern T80s have taken a lot of punishment at the cost of two Leopards. This is nail-biting stuff. A counterattack is needed, straight away, as the scenario has only 45 minutes to go. Panzer_Leader’s timing has been pretty good, but he may have left me with enough resources to turn things around.
In the north, his T80 company finally brushes aside two of my Leopard troops and breaks my line, getting 7 tanks into Westerbruck. I am still mob-handed just to the west, so I doubt they can get onto my northern objective.
In the south, despite more BMPs pushing north, his T80 company is whittled down, finally withdrawing from the objective and then being totally destroyed. At this point, it is over for Red. They have run out of time (just 20 minutes left) and tank superiority. We have held Westerbruck!
Here’s the final situation, showing Red and West German positions.
I was lucky to hold this. I think if all Red’s tanks were committed to one axis, maybe 30 minutes earlier, I would not have held them from taking and holding both objectives. West German ammo situation at the end was critical, particularly in the south.
Flashpoint Campaigns in a great game if you like Cold War tank action. It lack an SOP, but it is fun, challenging, and can be played SP, or by classic PBEM, or a multiplayer style PBEM. Hope you enjoyed this AAR!