Table for One: The China War (SPI/S&T) After-Action Report

Standard

The China War (SPI/Strategy & Tactics 76, 1979)
Scenario Two: Objective: Hanoi! After-Action Report

Overview

The second of three scenarios in SPI’s The China War, Objective: Hanoi! covers a hypothetical Chinese attack on Vietnam and Laos in the 1980s, designed to preemptively prevent potential Vietnamese intervention in a wider Sino-Soviet conflict. The scenario lasts for ten turns, each of a week, with both players receiving Victory Points for eliminating enemy units and controlling six hexes, mostly large cities. The Vietnamese side controls all six victory hexes at game start, giving them an initial 57 VP advantage.

No optional rules are used, and the rules-as-written guide play, meaning that the barest sliver of mountain in a hex turns the entire hex into a mountain hex, with commensurate penalties for movement, combat, and stacking. In effect, the entire Sino-Vietnamese and Sino-Laotian border becomes ringed with mountains. Suggested house rules—basically boiling down to appeals to common sense—would use predominant terrain, or crossed-hexside terrain, as determinant, but the rules-as-written hold sway in this playing.

Initial Thoughts

Objective: Hanoi! features fewer than twenty units on the Chinese side and a scant eight on the combined Vietnamese/Laotian side. Almost all of these units are corps/army in size. While the Chinese player can break down armies into three divisions each, the Vietnamese player cannot do so, almost certainly due to countermix limitations rather than any real-world tactical inability. As a result, the initial Vietnamese setup cannot cover all possible avenues of approach. Combined with the game system’s lack of zones of control, the Chinese will make headway somewhere right from the start.

The China War, Objective Hanoi!, Vietnamese/Laotian Setup

Vietnamese/Laotian Setup

I opt to place the strongest Vietnamese unit, a Mechanized corps, in Hanoi as a mobile reserve, with three Infantry corps lining the eastern border, from Haiphong through Cao Bang. The mountainous northern approach remains open. On the Laotian front, a Vietnamese Infantry corps sits in Dien Bien Phu, with the three weak Laotian Infantry divisions screening Vientiane.

The China War, Objective Hanoi!, PLA Setup

PLA Setup

Stacking limits in mountain hexes, three divisions or one army/corps, severely restrict the Chinese ability to mass firepower, so the main invasion thrust, some eleven first- and second-line PLA Infantry armies, will be directly towards Hanoi from the open region near Nanning. A “flying squadron” of two third-line PLA Infantry armies, backed by a lone Armored division and an Airborne division that can’t actually airdrop, will attempt to race in from Kunming in the north, hoping to encircle Hanoi from the west. The remainder of the Chinese forces set up to attack Laos, but the strong Vietnamese unit in Dien Bien Phu poses a threat to an already precarious supply line on that front. They may need to initiate another siege in that famous village.
Continue reading

Table for One: Murmansk 1941 (Decision Games/S&T) After-Action Report

Standard

Murmansk 1941 (Decision Games/Strategy & Tactics 194, 1999)
Scenario One: The First Attack, July, 1941 After-Action Report

Overview

The first of three scenarios in Decision Games’ Forgotten Axis: Murmansk 1941, titled The First Attack, July, 1941, covers the initial German movement by the 2nd and 3rd Mountain Divisions from their positions near Petsamo (modern-day Pechenga) towards Soviet defensive positions held by border guard units and the 14th and 52nd Rifle Divisions along the Titovka River. The scenario lasts for twenty-four turns of indeterminate length, but each turn is probably less than a day, most likely twelve hours.

Murmansk 1941, German approach to the Titovka River

Victory in the scenario depends on occupation of two key locations—Titovka and Ura Guba, each worth 10 VP each to the side to last control it—with the Soviets earning an additional 10 VP if the Germans do not manage to cross the Litsa River. The Soviets earn a further 3 VP for each German step reduced, with the Germans earning a single VP for Soviet step reductions and 2 VP for eliminating a Soviet HQ unit.

Two optional rules were used for this playthrough: Formation Effectiveness, which shows the ebb and flow of divisional effectiveness as it engages in combat (usually through die roll modifiers to combat); and Auto-Victory, granting all combats at an odds ratio of 7:1 or better with an automatic elimination of the defender’s units with no losses to the attacker. Both optional rules favor the Germans, and they were used for reasons that will soon become apparent.

Initial Thoughts

Right off the bat, the Soviets hold a 20 VP advantage by controlling the two victory locations. To make matters worse for the German player, even a twenty-four turn scenario provides hardly near enough time to reach the furthest objective, Ura Guba, which sits a full fifty-one hexes from the German start lines. Certainly it’s feasible in theory; at a top speed of twelve hexes per turn, a German bicycle battalion could get there in five turns flat. But there’s the little matter of two Soviet divisions lined up along the length of the road to contend with…

With stacking limited to two units per hex in most cases, the single road threatens to jam up far too quickly for both German divisions, so my thought was to start one German division further south to draw Soviet forces towards them, hopefully thinning out the road defenses a bit. By threatening a Litsa crossing (worth 10 VP denied to the Soviets), they might allow the other division to attack a thinner defense.

Compounding German difficulties, the Combat Results Table threatens to harm the attacker almost as much as the defender, with the attacker susceptible to mandatory step losses on the higher odds columns. Throw in the doubling of losses when as few as six full strength units (attack and defense) participate in a combat and, in conjunction with the far greater VP the Soviets gain for German step losses, it’s a hard row to hoe indeed.

Continue reading

Table for One: Revolt in the East (SPI/S&T) After-Action Report Part Two

Standard

Revolt in the East (SPI/Strategy & Tactics 56, 1976)
Standard Scenario After-Action Report
Part Two: Turns Seven through Twelve

Overview

Please see Part One of the Revolt in the East AAR for a detailed breakdown of the first half of the scenario.

The Soviet Union currently holds fifteen of the twenty-one victory cities, leaving six for the Warsaw Pact/NATO side. With only a simple majority needed for victory, the WP/NATO side has quite a bit of work to do, but their faster unit replacement rate should help even the odds a bit. The map currently favors the WP/NATO side as well, with the Soviets spread out all over; if the Soviets can consolidate these disparate forces, however, they should be able to hold their current gains.

(Combat results are EX—Exchange; DE—Defender Eliminated; DR—Defender Retreat; AR—Attacker Retreat. Phases with no significant action omitted.)

Turn 7

WP/NATO Reinforcement Phase:

A well-armed West German corps re-enters after absorbing replacement troops and materiel.

WP/NATO Movement Phase:

With all Soviet troops evicted from East Germany, NATO forces may spread out as they wish. The Turks and Greeks stream into Bulgaria, in an odd reversal of the Balkan wars at the beginning of the century, and fortify Sofia and Plovdiv. The considerable mass of troops in East Germany heads south and east, hoping to secure Poland up to the Vistula and Czechoslovakia down to the Danube. Overextending could be costly, as Soviet armies destroyed the last several turns have been reconstituting themselves, albeit more slowly than their NATO counterparts.

Revolt in the East, Turn 7, NATO Breakout from East Germany

WP/NATO Combat Phase:

The rampage of the Boleslav Army comes to a close, as five NATO corps, supported by the largest air armada yet seen in this conflict, surrounds the battle-tested warriors. [25 attack strength against 3 defense strength for max 7:1 odds. Combat dr=4 for DE.] The US 7th Corps has the honor of marching into a liberated Prague.
Continue reading

Table for One: Revolt in the East (SPI/S&T) After-Action Report Part One

Standard

Revolt in the East (SPI/Strategy & Tactics 56, 1976)
Standard Scenario After-Action Report
Part One: Turns One through Six

Overview

The Standard Scenario in SPI’s Revolt in the East lasts for twelve turns, each of a week’s duration. The entire map is in play.

Victory is premised on control of cities in Warsaw Pact nations, as well as those in otherwise neutral countries (Albania, Austria, Yugoslavia) that are invaded during the course of the game. With twenty-one cities in the Warsaw Pact countries, draws are impossible barring neutral invasion; a simple majority wins. Control does not require lines of communication.

Initial Thoughts

For the Warsaw Pact/NATO player, the key seems to be in tying down Soviet units. With incredibly sticky Zones of Control, a single WP or NATO corps can tie down as many Soviet armies as can be moved adjacent to; though the Soviet units will certainly retaliate, since ZoCs cannot be exited, they’ve been held up for a crucial turn. An edge in airpower will also allow NATO forces to punch above their weight. Additionally, keeping cities garrisoned where possible will increase the chances of the Soviets needing to take more than one turn of combat to suppress the city—only Defender Eliminated (DE) results will suppress a city, so a single odds column shift on the CRT can make a huge difference.

For the Soviet player, speed is of the essence. Revolts need to be put down decisively to keep the number of cities in revolt low; the longer NATO intervention, keyed to a die roll linked to cities in revolt, can be delayed, the better the chance of victory. Defeat in detail should be the order of the day. The airborne units need to be reserved for cutting off NATO unit supply lines; throwing them away taking a city should be avoided unless they’re needed to tip an odds column to the next higher level.

(Combat results are EX—Exchange; DE—Defender Eliminated; DR—Defender Retreat; AR—Attacker Retreat. Phases with no significant action omitted.)

Turn 1

Revolt Phase:

Revolt in the East, Turn 1, Poland revolts

Poland revolts. Possessed with the most formidable of the Warsaw Pact armies, and with the most cities to control, Poland represents a difficult challenge right off the bat for the Soviets.

WP/NATO Movement Phase:

NATO units remain immobile until East Germany falls into revolt and intervention has been triggered. So for now, the Poles are on their own. The Polish 4th Army, on the Oder, prepares to attack the adjacent Soviet 5th Army, while all other Polish units move to fortify cities.

WP/NATO Combat Phase:

In a blow for freedom, the Polish 4th Army attacks Soviet 4th Army. [Attack strength of 5 against defense strength of 5 for 1:1 odds. Combat dr=6 for AR.] The Poles retreat towards Wrocław, beaten but unbowed.
Continue reading

Table for One: End of Empire (Compass Games) After-Action Report Part Three

Standard

End of Empire (Compass Games, 2014)
American Revolutionary War Campaign Report (1775 Start)
Part Three: Turns Thirteen through Seventeen (Spring 1777 to Winter I 1777)

Overview

Please see Part One and Part Two of the Campaign Report for a detailed breakdown of Turns One through Six and Turns Seven through Twelve, respectively, in my playthrough of the American Revolutionary War campaign in Compass GamesEnd of Empire.

The British start in control of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, with the remaining colonies faithful to the American flag. Howe’s forces in and around New York City remain quite formidable, though they are harried by Washington at every turn.

The Americans have eliminated only 7 of the 20 British Regular steps needed to convince the French to intervene. The attritional strategy thus far has not brought about sufficient losses, but the Americans can see little way forward otherwise. Washington’s considerable army seems more like a fire brigade than a spearhead, having to blunt British conflagrations wherever they spark into being. There are too many ports to guard against naval predations, and the fear remains that the British will scoop up enough of them to shake the fledgling economy, sending the fragile American army home, unpaid and demoralized. But if the Americans can weather the storm, surely they will gain the initiative, as British losses can but mount.

(Leader ratings given as combat modifier/rank/initiative. Combat results are attacker losses/defender losses. Phases with no significant actions are omitted.)


Turn 13 (Spring, 1777)

Naval Phase:

The British fleet sails north along the coast, taking position in the Gulf of Maine.

Reinforcements:

Howe [1/5/4] sees seven regiments of Loyalist and Provincial troops raised in New York City, with citizens in Georgia and South Carolina also rallying to the crown.

Their enthusiasm cannot match that of the Americans, however, who bring seven regiments into being in Philadelphia alone, with five appearing in Boston and a score more throughout the colonies. Also entering, a namesake of, if not match for, Howe in Howe (Am) [0/14/3].

End of Empire, Turn 13, Howe vs. Howe

End of Empire, Turn 13, Howe vs. Howe

The Spring recruitments refill the ranks of both American and Loyalist/Provincial troops, with supplies captured from Nova Scotia in 1776 going to re-arm the 1st New Jersey Regiment, whose homes are invested by Riedesel [1/12/2]. Ominously, though, British conquests prevent the replacement of thirteen regiments, a hefty sum indeed.

Continue reading

Table for One: End of Empire (Compass Games) After-Action Report Part Two

Standard

End of Empire (Compass Games, 2014)
American Revolutionary War Campaign Report (1775 Start)
Part Two: Turns Seven through Twelve (Spring 1776 to Winter II 1777)

Overview

Please see Part One of the Campaign Report for a detailed breakdown of Turns One through Six in my playthrough of the American Revolutionary War campaign in Compass GamesEnd of Empire.

The British start in control of Georgia and South Carolina; the remaining colonies hew to the American cause. Their position in the southern colonies looks strong, and they anticipate building northward.

The Americans have eliminated only 4 of the 20 British Regular steps needed to bring the French into play. Continued attritional attacks to whittle down British Regulars before large numbers of German and Loyalist troops arrive seems paramount, and with the British fleet about to arrive, attention must be paid to vulnerable ports as well. The British amphibious invasions can strike at will, perhaps their greatest strength in the war.

(Leader ratings given as combat modifier/rank/initiative. Combat results are attacker losses/defender losses. Phases with no significant actions are omitted.)


Turn 7 (Spring, 1776)

Naval Phase:

The British fleet arrives over the horizon, sails lit by the rising sun, and takes up position in the North Atlantic, menacing large swaths of the coast. [The British fleet automatically enters each Naval Phase until the French enter play.]

Reinforcements:

The captured Schuyler [0/4/3] and Carleton [1/4/5] are swapped, a fair trade given their co-equal ranks. Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina send large numbers of men to the colors, with Maryland and New York also sending troops to the Continental Army. Replacements flock to American units, bringing them all back to full except for the troops from South Carolina, currently under the royal thumb.

Howe [1/5/4] makes good his threat to invade and embarks from Halifax, leaving a small force in garrison. New York City soon sees the tall ships, and Lee [0/3/3] decides to stand, having brought his meager force into fortified positions. The NY militia turns out, but a neighboring regiment from New Jersey fails to respond to the calls for help.

Howe’s forces swarm off the longboats carrying them in. [32 attack strength against 16 defense strength for 2:1 odds. Mods are +1 Howe, -1 fort, +1 US reforms for net +1. Combat dr=1; final dr=2 for 1:0. 1 British regular step lost; 5 total lost.] The cannon Lee kept in New York pay off, but Howe pushes the attack, unwilling to return to Nova Scotia in defeat. [29 attack strength against 16 defense yields 1:1 odds. Mods are still net +1. Combat dr=6; final dr=7 for 0/2.] The militia panics, and Lee decides to pull out of the shambles of his base with the cannon, at least.

End of Empire, Turn 7, Situation after Howe's landing in New York City

End of Empire, Turn 7, Situation after Howe’s landing in New York City

Howe immediately calls out the loyalist New York militia, and in Philadelphia, Thomas [0/6/3] does the same, mustering the Pennsylvania militia, though there’s some grumbling about having to leave Philly to defend the New Yorkers, of all people. Meanwhile, in South Carolina, the Marion Militia appears just outside Charleston. Though not overwhelmingly strong, they represent a threat to the rear of Clinton’s advance.
Continue reading