SLW Club member Iain has been working on an Alternative History of Europe, where WW2 did not happen, and Cold War Europe is a very different place. Part of the reason is to field armies you won’t see in a historical sense (both in kit and org structure), part was the sheer fun of making up the history. Tonight two of these forces did battle. Iain has invented a New Model Army for a New Poland. Alan has been working on the Cold War forces for New Byzantium and so it was only right that they should meet in battle.
If you wonder how an army from the Southern Balkans should be in MittelEuropa, you need to know that the tensions of post WW1 Europe have not dissipated, causing a large number of local wars and incidents (cue lots of wargames opportunities….) and shifting alliances and intrigues that make the history of the past few decades rather, well, Byzantine. Fast forward to the 80’s, this means that, via various shifting alliance commitments, a Byzantine force was sent deep into MittelEuropa to back up Our Peace Loving Allies/The Little Entente Aggressors against the Polish Expansionist Regime and its Lackets/Our Brave Forces and Allies (delete as appropriate)
It was a classic meeting engagement of a village/crossroads set up with us dicing for where we would be coming on table. What made this game interesting was that we had decided to bring on our units sequentially starting with the recon units and adding more battalions only when we had rolled enough pips during the command phase (see Iain’s house rules) so it wasn’t the usual tank battle club night games can be. Also it was useful to see how the made up TOE for the Poles and Byzantines would do in actual ‘combat’ conditions.
Polish initial forces were a slightly reduced Divisional Cavalry Regiment of 2 AML-90/60 companies, 1 Fox company and 1 M3 Panhard mounted infantry company
The Byzantines threw in a Demi-Brigade of Peltastoi, comprising of a battalion of crack light infantry supported by a company of Trapezitae AML-90’s, Psiloi in jeeps with mounted ATGM and an artillery company with 120mm Mortars.
The Poles managed to win the initiative and decided to barrel the Fox coy up the road to secure the village with the infantry coy following up. The two AML coys would move to either side, those on the left to take a low ridge across the lateral road those on the right the hedgeline by the road there.
View of the table after 1st Polish move. Fox coy secures the village whilst infantry and AML’s move up.
The Byzantines moved up to the Y-junction (top of pic with hand) with their jeep screening troops and pushed some units towards the woods on the Polish right and round the hedges to the left heading towards the ridge their AML’s were going for. Byzantium won the initiative next and with the extra pips called in a barrage on the village to suppress the Poles there, and drew first blood as one of their jeep mounted ATGM took out a Fox. Poland took payback with the Fox squadron to the left ko’ing the accompanying jeep mounted infantry platoon, whilst Polish infantry moved up to occupy the village.
The Byzantines managed to get to the ridge on the Polish left first but only with a recon jeep platoon which sensibly fell back before the advancing Polish armoured cars – although they did gamely have a pop with their 12.7mm HMGs! This was of course classic Byzantine feigned retreat (it says so in the despatches back to HQ, anyway) and as the Polish AML’s moved up to the ridgeline in pursuit the lead platoon was crippled by some
lucky dicing dead-eye shooting from an ATGM fired from the woods to the front of the ridge where the Byzantines had hidden one infantry coy
Byzantium’s annoying infantry companies with ATGM’s were a pain in the Polish a*rse all game.
The Byzantines, finding that Plan A – drive to village and take it – had failed, moved to Plan B, which was to blast the sh*t out of the town with artillery and form a defensive line to prevent the enemy armoured cars from sweeping through either flank, while seeking permission for Plan C – bring up some of the Mechanised Brigade as reinforcements. This was executed as flawlessly as possible in the fog of war by
lucky dice superb C&C, so the Polish infantry in the town spent most of the afternoon siruppressed by Byzantine artillery while the Byzantine ATGW’s teams whittled away at enemy armoured cars, who vainly tried to hit teams of infantry spread across hedgerows and woods.
Plan C eventually materialised, a battalion of T-55 tanks moved up the road, which made things potentially dicey for the Poles as the only thing that could really do any damage on their was the single Milan launcher with their infantry, however they won back the initiative the next go (the first time since the start of the game) and managed to get enough pips to release their own reserves, rolling up an Armoured battalion.
Byzantine T-55’s enter the fray whilst their AML’s start to relocate to the other flank.
Polish PT-89’s arrive to even things up! (These are Scotia EET-1 Osario’s masquerading as a Vickers mk.7)
For the Byzantines, seeing Polish Vickers tanks swinging into action was very bad news, with their 120mm guns effectively outranged the T-55’s 100mm gun by a good 1000m, this was not a fight to be had for a village that the enemy clearly now occupied in strength anyway. Byzantine Doctrine is strong on the “He who runs away” bit, especially when its not really your war, and so the Byzantine armour retired behind a smokescreen into the gathering darkness. The enemy tanks didn’t really want want to advance farther as they had already taken a few close misses from Byzantine ATGW already, so contented themself with reinforcing their position.
The end situation – for some reason the picture rotated and I can’t un-rotate it 🙁 Anyway the white streaks show ATGW action at longer effective range than the tanks have, the blue lines are the Byzantine Retreat Strategic Withdrawal when the Vickers tanks (red arrows) moved up.
Byzantium had won the skirmish in terms of assets destroyed, knocking out a lot of Polish armoured cars with relatively little loss to themselves, but ultimately the Poles had won the game by occupying and holding the village. Their better armour arriving gave them a superior position and forced the Byzantines to retire.
The game was fought with Fistful of Tows using Iain’s initiative and C&C modifications. This was a very interesting and surprsingly entertaining game – essentially two quite strong recce forces going for the same objective. Both being totally made up, it was interesting to see how the respective TOE’s fared. Infantry nunbers were about the same, Poland had more armoured cars, Byzantium had fewer but had supporting mortars and more ATGWs. Both sides’ armoured cars & missiles would KO the others if they hit, so it was a game of careful manouvering , playing cat and mouse and trying to snap at enemy assets while avoiding losses yourself before your heavier forces arrived. Byzantium got better dice C&C calling their off table Artillery in, so the Polish advantageous position in the town was partly neutralised by landing HE on their heads all game- until te Byzantine FAO had a Blunder (double 1) and called it on himself, and a battery of 122m guns duly obliged. Parts of him and his Dingo are widely spread around a number of foreign fields. Also the Byzantine Light Infantry are crack troops so designated as “Good” which makes their shooting with ATGW better than the “Average” Poles’s shooting (especially once they are suppressed!). However the Byzantine conscripts in their T-55s are “Fair” – quite fragile when taking incoming, and they bailed as quickly as they could.
One thing that did come up during the game was the seeming ineffectiveness of MRL’s in the rules – they have a very low fire value, maybe a question for the yahoo group there?
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This post was written by Alan Patrick