(Dr. Strangelove, 1964)
This is a series of articles aimed at guiding players on how to run a defense in Team Yankee; basically anytime you are called upon to play the role of defender in the missions you play. In this part we walk the talk with an actual battle report
(Note that we are using V1 rules)
(courtesy of Breakthrough Assault)
The mission was No Retreat with the table shown above.
Between the two table halves I could have chosen, I picked the further one with the little town. The choice is obvious with a little thought. While the three small forests are sufficient for the front, the lack of terrain at the rear gives me no good place to put supporting assets like Perehs. This seals the deal for me. On the other hand, the half with the town provides plenty of shelter for my more vulnerable units at the cost of giving the attacking force ready access to concealment.
Objectives and Pre-Game Analysis
I place an objective as far back as I can at the edge of the town square. Ben puts his in the sensible place, as far forward as permitted on the forest on one flank. Minefields go down on that flank to slow down the most direct approach. While this is usually the most straightforward way to use minefields, it's doubly important in this instance for reasons I'll explain
Above are the projected movements the Reds would make. The wooded flank is the most worrying; the buildings along the road cut off most line of sight and make it easy for the Redfor to close in with minimal intervention from my fire support elements.That's why the minefields had to go there, to buy me time for my reserves to help stiffen up resistance.
On the other flank, the hill also provides shelter for another approach. It doesn't quite cover him all the way though, he still has to move into the cornfield where he can be shot in order to challenge the other objective in the town square. The road and cornfields down the middle are literally the middle road, because that approach can fork either way to support a push on either objective. The catch is that the middle approach is also the most exposed to fire.
I put my free ranged in marker just behind the minefields. Truth be told it doesn't really matter because my mortars almost never start deployed on table anyway. Ben on the other hand puts his just in front of the clock tower. He correctly anticipated where I was going to put one of my platoons, since the clock tower has a narrow window into the mostly cut off flank
A tangential benefit of my list is that on the defense most of my half-on choices are no-brainers. The Perehs too are a clear choice to start on table, they can safely contribute from Turn 1 onwards with plenty of terrain to hide behind. The only real threat to my Perehs is the 4 Hinds in Ben's list.The final platoon starting on board are my Gepards, to deal with the air threat.
- Deployed: Both Israeli infantry platoons, both West German infantry platoons(one in ambush), Perehs, Gepards
- Reserves: Merkava 2s, Redeyes, ITVs, Mortars, 2x Luchs
Both Israeli infantry platoons are deployed covering the objectives with the bigger one in the woods. In order to make it difficult for my infantry to be simply pushed off the objective, I made use of the forest to park their M113s for support. They're placed out of 2" of the edge of the woods but within 6" of the infantry line so they can't be shot from a distance, but can still provide additional defensive fire if the enemy assaults.
The West German infantry platoon not in ambush goes around the clock tower, although I shifted back somewhat to minimise the number of teams hit if he chose to fire on the pre-game ranged in marker. Ultimately I decided that I couldn't let his ranged in markers dictate what I did. Lastly, my Perehs and Gepards hid out of line of sight right at the back
Red deployment isn't too surprising. DANAs are right at the back, intentionally out of range of the Perehs. His infantry start mostly mounted except for the Spigot teams, ready to push through the minefields and down the road. One unit of T72Ms use Spearhead from BMP-1 Scouts to creep forward, while the other takes advantage of the hill. The other unit of scouts and the Spandrels take up overwatch position on the wooded flank. Hinds loiter off board and aren't actually on table. Because I have no air assets, he opts to leave his Gophers at home.
Let the games begin
One unit of BTRs drive right up to the edge of the minefields, leaving a gap for the units behind to fire at the Israeli units while the other drives down the road. The T72Ms jump from field to field while some take hull down positions on the hill.
Since his BTRs had to move up a lot of his anti infantry firepower isn't firing at full effectiveness yet. His DANAs repeat on the marker placed pre-game and immediately knock out the one Milan team I placed in the clock tower. The rest of his shooting knocks a MG team from the West German platoon, as well as a Galil stand from the big Israeli platoon.
His T72Ms are the obvious priority target, especially since he put his DANAs out of reach of my Perehs. They are part of his core formation and pack Brutal guns. With that in mind I pop my ambush in the town square, using the buildings so that my remaining Milans can fire into the cornfields without his tanks getting concealment. You might note that with two platoons essentially overlapping their positions, they're a juicy target for artillery. This is actually an intentional choice to attempt to goad him into shifting his bombardment there.
The infantry that got shot up rally without much difficulty thanks to the COs nearby. More importantly my reserves don't arrive yet. Combined fire from all my Milans and the Perehs break the 4xT72M unit. Everything else stays gone to ground.
Ben wasn't expecting to lose a full unit of T72s immediately. Nevertheless, he continues to advance with the remaining tanks while the Red infantry begin to debus. One unit sends forward only their RPG teams to gap the minefields before the rest continue through, but through bad luck half of them are blown sky high by the mines they were supposed to clear. The other unit disembarks fully and moves down the middle, dispersing to get cover where they can.
Now that his BTRs didn't need to move and his infantry have started to come out, Ben could finally start to show me what his list could do. However, target saturation began to tell. As I hoped, the DANA battery shifted to hit the rear. I lose a Milan and a MG stand from the ambush platoon, while the clock tower platoon loses another Milan, taking them to the edge of needing morale checks. Even more small arms fire rains on my Israeli platoon in the woods, taking another team as well. The bombardment covered but failed to hit some of my Gepards though. This would become relevant later.
Managing to remove one full unit of T72Ms on Turn 1 was a small stroke of good fortune. Relieving the pressure from massed Brutal shots was important, and I decided to continue on that track. My Merkava 2s arrive right on time to start thinning down the BTR swarm. While it might have tempted some to also use the Merkavas to whittle down the T72Ms, at long distance the odds of their L7 105mm scoring a penetration on the Czech tanks were not good enough for me. I also poke out the Zeldas to snipe at the approaching infantry. Notably, clock tower platoon fails to unpin.
Shooting for me this turn was less eventful. I manage to pick off one of the RPG teams in the minefield, as well as 2 more T72Ms. One more T72 is bailed while the Merkavas begin to grind down the BTRs.
The Soviets have no problems rallying and gapping a minefield, clearing the way for the rest of that infantry unit. The bailed T72M fails to remount unsurprisingly. Due to the losses he has taken his core formation is starting to become brittle. Ben now has to face the choice of either continuing to push with the Czechs and risk his whole force breaking, or trying to hide his T72Ms and leave his infantry to go ahead without their support. Ultimately, given that the Perehs can still shoot his remaining MBTs even if they hide out of LOS, he opts to continue the advance with everything
Two more Milan teams are quickly taken off the table with artillery and ATGMs, leaving exactly one left on table. T72Ms line up opportunity shots on exposed Gepards but whiff. Ben's failure to whittle down my AA umbrella has become a problem, since the only real answer he has to my Merkavas are the Hinds. His attempts to try and deal with them using Spandrels prove fruitless.
Things are looking good for me. Ben's attack is visibly losing its momentum. My mortars arrive from reserve, too late to contribute as it turns out. The Merkavas shuffle to get more targets while staying under AA protection.
The hordes of BTRs and Soviet infantry continue to be whittled down. But more importantly, the Perehs knock out both of the remaining Czech T72Ms, leaving their CO by his lonesome.
Losing the last T72M unit without even taking any Gepards with them is the deathblow for Ben's game plan. With my AA umbrella undented, there is no feasible way he can grind me down fast enough to capture an objective before his own force collapses.
Ben decides to finally bring in the Hinds in a long shot, taking care to stay out of range of the Gepards. However, by doing this they are left with only one target to shoot. They do pretty well by getting the bullseye on two infantry teams in one go. Every other available gun also switches to fire at the Israeli platoon guarding the wooded objective, reducing them to about half their starting strength. The DANAs also bag one of the Zeldas backing up the same platoon. It simply isn't enough though; he decides to throw in the towel after that last hurrah.
It might not be immediately apparent why Ben considered his board state to be hopeless, so I'll explain. He has exactly one core platoon in good spirits, the BMP-1 scouts sitting at his start line. Since he has no feasible answer to the Merkavas, there's nothing stopping them from waltzing forward to delete the BMPs. Once those are gone he has to test formation morale every turn on a CO who is also exposed and vulnerable to getting picked off. No advance on either objective has a reasonable chance of succeeding either, the M113s still lurking prevent the Soviets from pushing my troops back before I grind them to bite sized chunks on my turn.
With all that in mind, we shake hands and call it a day.
The buck stops here
Post Game Thoughts
Ben's list really suffered in the drop from its original 93 point version to 85 points. While he was able to silence my Milan teams pretty quickly, he lacked the mass to take the counterpunch.
Meanwhile, things went according to plan for me. My Support elements, namely the West German platoons were able to force him to make difficult choices. Splitting his firepower in turn meant each individual unit was able to last longer. As mentioned previously, dying slowly kept me in the game.
The Perehs were the clear MVPs. Not only did they consistently kill 1-2 T72s each turn, their mere presence alone was a significant influence in Ben's decision making.
We've come to the end of our series on how to run a defense. While I might not have covered everything, I hope I've managed to convey enough to help you up your game
May the math be with your calculated risks. Until next time, folks.