Thursday, August 11, 2016

6mm Cold War Commander

In Paukarlahticon I got to play my first proper microarmor game! My friend Mikke brought the figures, rules and designed the scenario, the terrain is mostly from my collection. It's a "cold war gone hot" scenario using Cold War Commander rules. Somewhere in West Germany in the 1980's, the third world war has begun a couple of weeks ago. The best troops on both sides have mauled each other badly and now both sides are throwing their not-quite-the-best-troops on the line. The Soviets have to capture a city and the NATO defenders must repel the communist menace!

We played a 2 vs. 2 game with Mikke as the umpire. He held separate briefings for both sides, giving our Soviet forces a secret timed reinforcement in the form of helicopters carrying infantry. We timed them to land on the northern corner of the city on turn 4. Our plan was to use a part of our forces to pose a credible threat to NATO forces in the middle and use the bulk of our forces to attack from the north using the hill between the city and us to cover our advance.

The table at the beginning of the game.

Both sides deployed on the table and NATO's secret was revealed: Their defensive line was protected by a bunker, some barbed wire, tank traps and plenty of potential minefields we didn't know about. In fact, the landing zone of our chopper forces seemed to be right on top of one!

A little help in seeing where everyone is.
The game was on! Soviet tanks and mechanized infantry advanced speedily in the cover of the hill, but once they cleared the crest, they were hit by AT fire from the woods beyond. The soviet assault had a much greater local superiority however and could easily take some losses.

The defenders fire at the oncoming tanks. Each vehicle model represents a platoon of vehicles and movable units are typically brigades.

At the middle of the table there was little else going on except some artillery fire and long range gunnery. This engagement would clearly be decided where the soviet spearhead was pushing through. A brigade of Soviet infantry disembarked at the woods where NATO forces had their AT units and went in for the kill. The woods were soon purged of the capitalists. Seeing the woods cleared of friendly troops, the NATO tank line opened fire at the woods, all but destroying the Soviet infantry. Soviet tanks rolled over the hill after the NATO tanks had given away their position and started firing back. At this point however, the United States Air Force stepped in. Several air strikes caused great casualties among the Soviet armored forces despite the heroic efforts of their AA units. If the NATO armored units had held back a bit more when firing at the infantry in the woods, they would now have been in excellent position to wipe the soviet tanks off entirely, but now the soviets had a bit too much time to recover (incomplete "kills" heal at the end of turn in cold war commander so you have to concentrate your fire)

The Soviet spearhead would have had a hard time pushing against the NATO tank line, but their airborne troops came just at the right moment. The minefield they landed on proved to be a dummy and the chopper supported infantry advanced into the city and attacked the NATO tanks in the flank.

Here comes the (air) cavalry!
The airborne infantry assault was quite effective so the Soviet armored forces were content to support the assault with some long range shooting. The mechanized infantry began to move into the city to bolster the attack.

Soviet armor attempt to out-shoot their NATO counterparts while the airborne infantry attack the city.
Meanwhile the rest of the NATO defenders stare at an empty field as the Soviet forces in the middle did not attack at all.
NATO began to move reinforcements to the city, but the engagement was already decided. The airborne infantry were deep in the city and it looked like they would soon receive reinforcements in the form of mechanized infantry so the umpire called the game.

Soviet infantry captures the city.
For the soviets, the battle went right according to plan added with a bit of luck. It was an interesting scenario. I don't get to play umpired games often where the players have limited intelligence on the field. I also liked cold war commander. The activation system is taken from Warmaster and works surprisingly well for this kind of game. I also like the fact that enemy forces cannot be targeted before they have been spotted. Scouting units become very important. Air power is quite abstract but it is definitely felt. There are also AA units which can defend against air strikes, which makes those situations quite exciting.

As for microarmor in general, I like the scope of the game. It feels like you're in charge of a bigger operation. The only thing taking away from the immersion is that it's difficult to fool your brain into thinking a single tank model is representing four tanks. Also distinguishing between all those different green vehicles isn't easy in 6mm. Maybe some identification labels are called for.

Now, where did I put those Heroics & Ros WW2 tanks...

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