Friday, November 15, 2013

Somewhere in Germany, 1989

This game began twenty five years ago.  I walked into my FLGS, Starbase Alpha, and came across a group of guys playing Frank Chadwick's Combined Arms rules.  They were running a game featuring a full Soviet Division attacking a NATO Brigade in prepared positions.  It was done on a 10-12' table fully covered with Geohex.  I was fifteen at the time and that game made a real impression.  My dad and I bought our first packs of GHQ microarmor that day.  Not long after, we started gaming with those same guys.  Sadly, as gaming groups do, they had moved on from Combined Arms, and modern micro armor in general.  The fall of the iron curtain, took most of the tension out of it.  Despite a brief resurgence with the first Gulf War, moderns in our area seemed dead.  I however, had already accumulated a large soviet force, and dad had a thriving force of Americans.

Now fast forward twenty five years.  My interest has never waned.  In the intervening years I completed my Soviet Division, and twenty years after his passing, my dad's Americans fight on.  Thankfully, I have found gamers willing to indulge my interest.  Combined Arms, though, seems a little dated now, and didn't allow for the size game I wanted to run in the time I had to run it.  I began work on my own home brew rules, drawing mechanics from several different games.  Thus was born Armageddon '89.  Last weekend we tried our fourth playtest.  The scenario is a Soviet attack on a NATO position attempting to force a river crossing.  The Soviet forces consisted of a tank regiment and a motor rifle regiment.  They were supported by a BM-21 battery and a couple batteries of SAU-152s in addition to their integral artillery.  Air support consisted of a flight of MiG-27s, a flight of MiG-21s, and a flight of SU-25s as well as two Hind and two Hip flights.  A bridging battalion was made available to cross the river.

Opposing them were elements of the 11th ACR.  Two cavalry troops and two tank companies awaited the Soviet advance, backed by four flights from the cavalry's helicopter contingent and a good deal of artillery.  In addition, a flight of German F4s, ANG A-10s, and Air Force F-16s remained on call.

The Soviets massed in a red tide and began a rapid deployment, racing to the river.

Long range fire from the M1A1s begins to take its toll.

The American artillery unleashes FASCAM minefields (the white cards) to channel the Soviet advance.

The T-72s and BMPs don't die alone though.  A lucky long range shot takes out the first platoon.

The ACAVs Bradleys burn when they take a full volley from the Soviet MLRS battery.

In the town on the "wrong" side of the river, the cavalry scout company fires its TOW missiles and prepares to fall back over the scissors bridge deployed by the engineers after the Germans blew the road bridge.

The Americans call for an airstrike by the Luftwaffe, but a Polish MiG attempts an intercept.  In turn the MiG is bounced by a flight of American F-16s.  In the end, both interceptors eliminate one another, and the F4 continues its mission, taking out several BMPs with its rockets.

As the last of the scouts attempt to retreat, one of the BMP battalions overruns their position.  The scouts high tail it for the other side of the river.

The view from the American position.  That's a lot of heavy metal rolling at them.

The Soviet rifle battalions have outpaced the tank battalions as they advanced at the double.

As the Soviets move into town the Americans call in an A-10 strike.  The A-10 deftly dodges the fire of two AA platoons, and lines up for a strafing run.  Apparently distracted, the pilot misses with all six shots at vehicles under his guns.

The MiG-27 misses with both of its Atolls.

The next turn the Americans continue the trend by bringing back the F4 for a repeat.  The hapless MiG wastes its last missile in a vain attempt to stop the Luftwaffe.  A couple more BMPs go up in flames.

Redeploying in anticipation of the FASCAM minefield that blocked his advance on the south bank, the Soviet commander attempts to prepare the first Motor Rifle Battalion to swim the river.

The deadly whine of jet engines interrupts the preparations.   The rest of the advance closes up on the lead elements.  It has all the makings of a grand "Charlie foxtrot".

The Combined fire of the A-10s and the American artillery decimates the Soviets.

The Americans deploy the last of their reserves as the Cobras make pop up attacks from behind the hill, trading shots with the Hips and the soviet AA. (the Hinds died early to the pair of M163s attached to the task force)

The combination of artillery and air power takes its toll, checking the Soviet advance.

The A-10 pulls a victory roll as it flies away from a burning line of Soviet tracks.  We stopped there for time.  The rules need some refining.  Artillery feels a little too deadly vs AFVs.  I'll be toning it down a little bit next time.  In the end though, the American force suffered 50% casualties losing 6 of 12 M1A1s and 2 of 5 Brads.  The Soviets lost far more equipment, and had we had time may have still pulled it out.  The American aircraft were running out of ordinance, and the Soviets had 20+ tanks remaining, and two companies worth of bridging equipment.  Falling back to long range and trading shots with the surviving Abrams may have been a more viable strategy, at least the American players thought so.  Maybe next time we'll switch sides as try again.
Special thanks to Michael (of Campaigns in Miniature )  for taking the pictures since my camera went to camera heaven a few weeks ago.


  1. The rules may need tweaking, I'm no authority on modern warfare, but the game was successful in being a real nail-biter from this American players standpoint. Had the Soviets not created a massive kill zone by bunching up so much at the end it would be more in doubt. Quite willing to continue playtests from either side.

  2. That's one of the reasons I want to try that scenario again. Maybe I'll take the Soviets and have a go at it. It will be a month or two while I rework the rules a bit.

  3. Looks great. I always wanted to play microarmour modern in the late 80's when I was 15 as well. Never got around to it as my friends and I were too busy playing ACW and WH40K. I might give it another look.
    All the best.