Monday, 15 November 2021

Along Am Thiesenberg, with Battlegroup NorthAG

Continuing our gaming ramble through ‘larger’ games with armies and rules we just enjoy, but maybe don't use enough, this was a 1,000 point game of NorthAG (it’s been a while).

Here is the Russian force I selected for my 1,000 pts.

I found a spot on Google Earth that looked likely for a good game, and one that I knew I could recreate(ish) with my terrain collection. We used the standard scenario from the game. 

British end of the table, the Aue river and the woods which would become a very hot-spot.

Russian end, the small farm and open fields either side of Am Thiesenberg.

 It turned into a helluva scrap… the early turns saw the Russian smoke screen in effect, for 6 turns, which limit a lot of fire (but not the dug-in British Chieftains), but they only score a single kill at long range on one of the recce tanks. My battle plan was to stage my attack in two ‘phases’. The first would be a rush to get the second objective required by the ‘Advance and Hold’ special rule. The second would be press on from their with the Reinforcement Requests (more tanks and infantry), to take Objective 3. It didn’t work out much like that, but it still made for a close game. The British had spent heavily on their Forward Screen, with dug-in infantry and Chieftains, a Scimitar recce troop, a Gazelle (give him the Scout benefits and spotting for off-table Abbots). We both also had Combat Air Patrols up, and the jets were the first to engage. The Harrier’s sidewinders failed to drive off my ‘Flogger’, but returning air-to-air missiles also failed to chase away the Harrier… which (no doubt by some slick, low-speed VTOL manoeuvring), then did engage and drive away the Flogger (maybe he just ran out of missiles)… so the British had the air superiority for now. That would have an effect later in the game, as 2 Gunship counter for my Russians both failed to show because of the patrolling Harrier, and I had no AA (high) weapons to target it with (note for future games). Nice work from the RAF today…

Initial action. Blue (Brits) A - dug-in infantry and Chieftains. B - FV-432 platoon, Scimitars and Chieftains advance. C- HQ. Red (Russian) A Tank Platoon and BTR infantry attack. B Tank Platoon supporting fire. C Tank Platoon, BRDM-2 mortar spotter and guided weapon carriers in static positions.


CAP on station...

CAP on station...

Dogfight! 1983 style, but not at that range obviously...

Back on the ground, my first advance was cautious, trying to avoid execution by waiting Chieftain gunnery. My T-64Bs, moved up, got onto Ambush fire and awaited the smoke to clear, to return fire with a fusillade of ATGMs (all missed, in fact, not one ATGM from either side hit all game, the Brits fired 13 Milan and Swingfire shots, all missed. The Russians returned with at least various 15 ATGMs too, all missed! - very expensive shooting that!).

The arrival of my first Motor Rifle BTR-mounted platoon saw it rush Objective 2, through incoming, but ineffective, 105mm shelling called in by the Gazelle. My infantry dismounted and took the objective, but coming the other way his FV-432 platoon had also dismounted and a heavy infantry fire-fight started in the woods. The Brits got the upper hand, removing 3 Russian infantry stands (grr - 1s) and a BTR with a ’66’ hit… but fast behind my first platoon, my second arrived, again through 105 fire (this time its ground radar guided shots destroyed a BTR and all its passengers with a direct hit, 3 counters, that hurt!). But my infantry hung on, got the Brits pinned down too, used their Grail MANPAD against the lurking Gazelle (popping up behind the trees) and missed… as had my SA-13 several times… I cannot hit that damn helicopter! One Scimitar was KO’d by an RPG shot, but the game became a long range duel of ATGMs and mostly suppressing fire from the tank, with an close quarters infantry brawl in the woods, which was a stalemate, although the Brits were outnumbered. There attached sustained fire GPMG did excellent pinning work.

Overhead, the RAF turned up again with a Jaguar strike on the rearward farm, which ran the gauntlet of SA-13 missiles and Shilak fire, took a hit, rolled a 6 to jink through it, and got its bombs away. Pinning was all it caused, but the RAF were on-it today!

The Brits had a slim lead on counters, but not by much as we broke for lunch… so far the Russian had lost just two tanks, the Brits one (an engine fire from a Breakdown). 

Recce tanks watch over the fields towards the British lines.

They push on... and first loss of the game, a Chieftain scores a direct hit...

The lead company start to deploy, 3 platoons of three (left, right and centre) and the bosses tank just back, centre rear. Warned by the loss of the recce tank, they move up slowly and load ATGMs...

British dug-in positions, white smoke marks unit on Ambush Fire (so, yeah, all of them).

Move up! A T-64B is pinned by a glancing hit... platoon is accompanied by a BRDM-2 mortar spotter.

Scimitar reaches the road junction (objective marked by a KO'd FV-432).

First British HQ track rolls up to Aue... to aid the battle from the west bank with all that signals-stuff...

First MRP's BTRs race across the fields for the woods, ball of smoke is to remind us - there is smoke!

Left flank tank platoon stand off at long-range and wait for the smoke to clear to engage with ATGMs... they fired them all, and missed with them all... this was always just a base of fire, not an advance. Missiles gone, they reverted to HE harassment. 

Chieftains support the FV-432s on their way to the woods... the lead one broke down and had to be abandoned - a troubled day for the RTR...
Rapier battery and the Red Caps deploy at the rear... but the AA wasn't ready to engage the incoming SU-25 (so, yeah, when you have one job to do!).

One brave fly-boy, the Jaguar makes its dash through incoming, get its bombs away and then hits the afterburners...

Back to it after a tea break, with the Russians calling up more infantry reinforcements to get through that wood… but the electronic warfare unit of the Brit’s tactical command meant the order wasn’t received, so no extra motor rifle infantry to help out. Meanwhile, the Brits had called-up some engineers, to try and recover another broken down Chieftain (damn that Leyland engine), then more infantry for the same job, to reinforce in the woods. His second platoon was a reserve unit, in Saxon APCs (we quickly made up the stats, so 0 armour all-round!). They arrived under heavy fire from ATGMs (missing) and 120mm mortars but made it through unscathed, speeding along the road behind the wood.

That wasn’t a healthy place to be either, as my timed SU-25 air strike arrived, fast and low, to bomb the road junction. The Harrier CAP failed to get it, and the Rapier team wasn’t on Ambush Fire (lacking of orders, it had been forgotten), so they were caught with their pants down! Bombs away, and 2 parked FV-432s were left wrecked as the Frogfoot screamed away. Following that, I had already requested Airborne Support and an air-mobile infantry platoon choppered in… landing behind the woods and instantly dismounting and attacking. 2 Saxons were left wrecked by RPG fire and the British infantry were caught in the open and heavily pinned. Then, the Mi-8 helo had a ‘Breakdown’ counter played on it and, obviously having taken too much fire inbound, it was now stuck on the ground, immobilised and a very sitting duck (time for the pilots to abandon ship I think).

Our reinforcements had pushed up both our Break Ratings, and the game would have been over, but no, it went on. Into turns 11 and 12, and my second wave of T-64 armour arrived, using Company Orders to advance and lay down a barrage of HE, which again had the Brits heavily pinned, especially their tanks, which were struggling to get off shots and outnumbered. The recovery vehicle had arrived but failed to fix anything. It was now in the line of Russian tank fire (unhappy REME!).

Both side’s stacks of BR counters were large, both players counting furiously. The loss of a couple of Russian tanks as they pushed forwards cost me more counters and by turn 13 my total was on 75 from a BR 75… oh dear, next counter would end it. That next counter came as the airborne infantry lost a stand to small arms fire in their bold attack, but the counter was a 1, which saw another Chieftain (the 3rd) breakdown and the crew abandon it. His 2 counters (NATO force preservation in effect) just might break him… I hoped, but no, one was a gunship counter, finally a Lynx was inbound (it was desperately needed with 15 Russian tanks on the table)… the Brits had reach 82 from their 85 BR total… so, so close. But they had hung on to win a very close encounter, even if taking more BR damage.

Great game, all elements of the game were fully in play, with specialist units, air strikes, AA-missiles, helos, electronic warfare (I loved the turn that halved his Orders, that was very unpleasant for the Brits). Timed arty strikes (mine were slightly disappointing, but did cause some pinning and one was blocked by an counter-battery air strike - the RAF at it again!). There was a surprise helo infantry assault and ambush of his Saxons, turn after turn of a close range infantry firefight in the woods, with RPGs and 66s flying (he got 2 BTRs with his 66s, but missed 4 times as well, more training on 66s required). All in all, very happy with our 4.5 hours of gaming, a battle just as I envisioned it when writing the game. 

A very marginal British win, 1 or 2 more counters was all it would have taken (maybe just 1 ATGM hit - somewhere, anywhere). In the the end, the reinforcements were vital… getting the third infantry platoon would have kept me in the fight another turn, which is all I needed. Still, a memorable game…

Blue. A - Dug-in defence at objective 4, under ATGM and mortar fire. B - HQ. C - Chieftains, mostly broken down or pinned under HE fire. D - Infantry platoon in woods, heavily engaged. Red. A - MRP attacks into woods. B Tank supporting fire and second tank company advance. C - static position, firing a lot, hitting not much! D- Mi-8 landing and infantry attack towards the road.

What is Russian for 'Out! Out! Out!'? Urrah!, the motor infantry platoon charge into the woods.


They attack into the woods and take the objective (marked by 105 gun), but at a cost. 2 BTRs KO'd by 66s... the Grail team lurks at the rear, trying to hit the damn Gazelle...

REME on the job... but no joy... 'you just can't get the parts these days!'

Russian HQ at the farm, Shilka on Ambush fire... but the Gazelle wisely stayed out of range. Fresh tanks moving up, HE loaded...

Second tank company arrives and lay down a hail of HE... keep those deadly Chieftains suppressed!

Mi-8 inbound... full of Russian airborne troops, but where to go?.

SU-25's bombs impact behind the wood, FV-432s are KO'd or pinned.

SU-25, fast and low, avoiding the Harrier's patrol, and the expected Rapier missiles. It's a real mess down there...

Second MRP in BTRs follows the first, one is catastrophically hit by a radar guided 105mm Abbot shell. Another takes a Chieftain's 120mm hit and turns into instant scrap-metal... 

Reinforcing platoon in Saxons speed up the road, to behind the woods, ready to join that fight, they think!
120mm mortar shelling brackets the dug-in infantry and their MILAN post (oh, and three Chieftain tanks).

Russian airborne troops set-down and attack the woods from behind, catching the Saxon column in a hail of RPG shots. Behind them, their ride has just broken down! No more thwoppa-thwhoppa!




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  2. Thanks, I enjoyed that and like the feel that the terrain and scale gives.

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