First SabreSquadron solo play, Soviets attack West Germans

1945 - 1991 AD

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First SabreSquadron solo play, Soviets attack West Germans

Postby josta59 » Sat Sep 05, 2015 1:46 pm

I finally had my first company-level miniatures wargaming experience, and it was an experience. Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying out the free version of the new SabreSquadron rules. For me, the length was just right, so I don’t know if I’ll buy the full version. But it was a very fun game, a nail biter even while playing both sides.

Setup
I have nearly a month of notes, so I’ll try to just hit the highlights here. I used a virtual table, as always. But this time I put in some effort to find a spot on Earth using Google Earth that would look a lot like a gaming table. That turned out kind of cool. I’ve never played on a piece of Earth so large before. My gaming pieces were very tiny, so there was a lot of zooming in and out in PowerPoint.

Scenario
The scenario was based on a hypothetical one published on the SabreSquadron website, in which a Soviet motor rifle company attacks a village defended by a West German Panzergrenadier company near Fulda in 1989. The Soviets had 3 platoons riding in BTR60s, plus a command platoon, supported by a T64 platoon, a recce platoon in 3 BRMs, and an artillery battery with an observation officer. The WGs faced them with 8 Marders and attached rifle groups, supported by a half-platoon of Jaguars.

The Soviets had a larger force and artillery but lacked any cover to speak of as they made their approach. They moved through broken ground, which made their progress slow. They were big and mean, but they were sitting ducks. It made for an interesting scenario.

I apologize for the smallness of the pictures. I had no idea they’d be so tiny until I started prepping them for the AAR. I’m disappointed, since I’ve waited a long time to share this battle.

Stockels table_01_setup.jpg
The German village Stockels in the west; Russians approaching from the east


I didn’t really know how to use a recce platoon, especially in a situation like this with nowhere to hide. I put them out in front, but that messed them up because the BRMs couldn’t move as fast as the other vehicles, and the tanks couldn’t shoot through them. The ensuing command confusion caused all the Soviet vehicles to miss a lot of missile shots until I finally got them better organized near the middle of the table. The recce platoon ended up being mostly useless.

Action
The Marders started picking off the Russian tanks early on with their devastating Milan antitank missiles, destroying one T64 in the first turn.

The Soviets started their artillery attack on the area north of the village in turn 1 with 6 122-mm guns. All the Marders had left the fire zone, leaving a great deal of coverless infantry to be hit. It was carnage, but the Marders survived.

Stockels table_02_end turn 1 bound 2.jpg
Artillery strike north of the village


A Marder was picked off by a T64’s gun at long range in turn 2, and 2 T64s and a BRM were hit by Milans just after. The Russian recce groups escaped the burning BRM but were far from any shelter. German platoons north of the village started getting mixed up, creating command confusion. Another Soviet barrage caused more casualties, and one of the Marders withdrew to the table’s edge. This particular Marder would end up having a major effect on the game much later.

Stockels table_04_end turn 2 bound 2.jpg


In turn 3, the Soviet artillery observation officer moved north in his ACRV2 so he could see targets beyond the large warehouses south of the village. He would call for a barrage in that area soon.

A BRM managed to take out a Marder before allowing the tanks and BTRs to go past. The BTRs then started firing their HMGs at infantry targets north of the village at long range, to keep their heads down. One group was destroyed.

Stockels table_05_end turn 3 bound 1.jpg
Russians try to get organized


Two BTRs were then destroyed, one by a Milan and the other by a TOW fired by one of the Jaguars. The infantry in one of the BTRs managed to escape, but those in the other vehicle were not so lucky.

Missiles continued to fly both directions in turn 4. A T64 hit a Marder south of the village with an AT8, destroying it. The Soviet platoons finally got arranged correctly in this turn, making their firing more accurate. The recce platoon, however, had gotten too far away from each other and were moving slowly due to lower morale. They decided to regroup.

A Marder in the south that had started moving backwards fired at the command BTR and destroyed it, out of the blue. The soldiers inside didn’t make it out. The rest of the Soviet company shrugged it off and kept advancing, even when yet another T64 was taken out by a Milan from north of the village.

Then artillery fire started raining down on the area south of the village. A few infantry groups were neutralized, and one was destroyed, but no vehicles were hurt.

Stockels table_05_end turn 4 bound 2.jpg
Artillery switches to south of town
Last edited by josta59 on Sun Sep 06, 2015 9:29 am, edited 4 times in total.
"...military glory, that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood—that serpent's eye that charms to destroy..." --Abraham Lincoln, 1848

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Re: First SabreSquadron solo play, Soviets attack West Germa

Postby josta59 » Sat Sep 05, 2015 9:38 pm

I got interrupted. To be continued!
"...military glory, that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood—that serpent's eye that charms to destroy..." --Abraham Lincoln, 1848

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Re: First SabreSquadron solo play, Soviets attack West Germa

Postby josta59 » Sun Sep 06, 2015 8:46 am

In turn 5, the last remaining T64 on the table fired an AT8 at one of the lightly armored Jaguars and destroyed it easily. The other Jaguar’s morale stayed good. The 2nd and 3rd BTR platoons decided to split up and approach the village from the east and southeast.

Then the last T64 was neutralized by the last Jaguar in the same turn. That was followed by the destruction of two recce BRMs by Marders, and only one of the wrecks was escapable. And the onslaught wasn’t over yet. Two more Marders driving out of the artillery zone in the south took out 2 BTRs, and only one of them was escapable.

Another round of artillery fire south of the village had no effect on the Germans. In fact, many that had been suppressed became ok at this point. It was looking bad for the Soviets, but most of them pushed on despite having no cover. The recce platoon, however, decided it had enough and began withdrawing on foot since all the BRMs were destroyed. They would never return to the fight.

Stockels table_08_end turn 5 bound 2.jpg
Russians take it hard, and the recce platoon gives it up


In turn 6, the LMG groups that had escaped the BTRs started firing on whatever infantry they could see in the fields. The T64 improved from neutralized to suppressed, so it could start moving and firing again.

When it was the Germans’ turn to fire, they actually had nothing left in LoS and had to start moving out their reserves. The German command and 1st platoons began moving into the town to defend it from the inside, since the Soviets were getting ever closer.

Stockels table_11_end turn 6 bound 2.jpg


The Soviets continued their advance in turn 7, so close now that the tank could no longer receive an effective range bonus with its anti-tank missiles (apparently it’s better to be far away with these missiles). A BTR neutralized an RPG group in the north with HMG fire. The T64 became unsuppressed but was quickly suppressed again by RPG fire from the northwest. It had to dodge another Milan, too. Meanwhile, a withdrawn Marder in the south could now see the BTRs and destroyed one, along with the infantry inside.

The Soviet artillery switched back to firing north of the town, and a neutralized RPG group was destroyed. Soviet 3rd platoon BTRs that had halted started moving again.

Stockels table_13_end turn 7 bound 2.jpg
Russians closing in


In turn 8 one Soviet vehicle, a BTR, finally got close enough to the village to drop off troops before it could be hit by a Milan or RPG and lose them all. The T64 and another BTR to the east provided covering fire. An infantry group out in the fields fired LMG at an RPG group headed for the village from the north and killed it. The attached German LMG group began to withdraw. Other Soviet infantry stopped firing and started advancing quickly across the difficult terrain to support the troops moving into the village.

A German Marder in the north stopped withdrawing and held its ground. Another that had just moved through the town spotted the T64, stopped at the edge of the village, and fired a Milan at its side but missed. Its attached infantry quickly took cover positions to defend the village against the incoming Soviet troops.

Soviet artillery fire continued to pour like rain north of the village, finishing off a German LMG group.

Stockels table_15_end turn 8 bound 2.jpg
Infantry finally get a bigger role


In turn 9, the T64 stopped moving so it could fire its gun accurately at the Marder that had just fired on it from the edge of town. It missed, but it did become unsuppressed. Meanwhile, the infantry moved in rapidly to assault the German foot soldiers. That turned out to be a mistake, since both sides were equally supported and defenders get a large bonus in a close assault. So the Russians fell back, and I didn’t try that again. The covering fire from the BTRs did manage to suppress the Germans’ command RPG group, but that didn’t stop them from obliterating the nearest one with a Panzerfaust 44. That was 2nd platoon’s last BTR, but its infantry was already in the village, and their morale held up.

Meanwhile, a German LMG group moving into the village from the south was taken down by another BTR advancing toward town. Another LMG group far behind them took down a Soviet LMG group east of the village. And then a suppressed RPG group behind them managed to destroy the last T64 on the table by hitting it in the side with a Panzerfaust. It had done some great work, but it could only do so much in such a situation. A 1st platoon BTR was destroyed by a Marder south of town. The infantry made it out, but not with great morale. Finally, a Marder that had gone all the way around the warehouses stopped to aim a missile at a nearby BTR from 3rd platoon that was caught unawares. It was hit in the side and blown to smithereens. The infantry escaped unharmed, but their morale dropped a bit.

A Marder north of the village was destroyed by artillery fire, and a German LMG group out in the open was lost. German morale stayed strong despite the fierce back-and-forth battle this turn.

Stockels table_17_end turn 9 bound 2.jpg
Soviet close assault fails, and their last tank is lost
Stockels table_17_end turn 9 bound 2.jpg (49.03 KiB) Viewed 1252 times
Last edited by josta59 on Sun Sep 06, 2015 9:37 am, edited 6 times in total.
"...military glory, that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood—that serpent's eye that charms to destroy..." --Abraham Lincoln, 1848

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Re: First SabreSquadron solo play, Soviets attack West Germa

Postby josta59 » Sun Sep 06, 2015 8:57 am

In turn 10, the incoming Soviet infantry managed to suppress a Marder in the town and then neutralize it so it couldn’t bother the soldiers inside the village. Most of their shots missed in this turn, though. A BTR from 3rd platoon near the warehouses had gotten very close to the Marder that had snuck around, so it unloaded its infantry so they wouldn’t be lost if the Marder blew it up.

A withdrawing Marder stopped and held its ground. Another in the center of the village moved east to support to support their brothers holding off the oncoming horde, or what was left of it.

The German command group moved around a corner to fire at the Russian LMG group in the town, using one of the game’s few move-then-fire options. It received harsh DRMs for being suppressed and for not being able to see its target when it started moving. It missed.

A German LMG group well south of town and a halted Marder in the north were able to put down 2 Russian LMG groups out in the east. Then the Marder east of the warehouse took aim and fired a Milan at a BTR at very close range, but the Soviet vehicle was able to dodge it.

The Soviet artillery tried to destroy an already neutralized Marder north of town, but it wasn’t hit. Suddenly German elements that were suppressed or neutralized improved all at once, including the command fire group. Did the Soviets stand any chance of taking the village? I would soon find out.

Stockels table_19_end turn 10 bound 2_crop.png
German infantry strengthen their defense
Stockels table_19_end turn 10 bound 2_crop.png (193.05 KiB) Viewed 1248 times


In turn 11, the Soviet troops in the village decided to fire from cover rather than try another close assault. They were able to suppress a Marder searching them out in the village with an RPG16. Then that Marder was destroyed by RPG fire at its side from a 3rd platoon unit moving in from the warehouse area. The Soviets had another bad turn of luck with their firing otherwise, but a BTR did manage to destroy a suppressed LMG group south of town. And no Russian units were suppressed or neutralized at this point.

The Soviet infantry at the edge of town finally pressed into cover between the houses. They were where they needed to be to take the village, but now they’d gotten themselves surrounded by German infantry and armor. A nearby Marder fired its gun and took out the RPG group, leaving only a Soviet LMG/light RPG fire group to hold the village. And then they were suppressed by RPG fire from the German command group. Luckily their morale held up, but it was looking pretty bleak for the Russians now.

But then it was the Germans’ turn to do some bad shooting for a while. And then a final artillery barrage missed a neutralized Jaguar but destroyed a Marder that I’d accidentally moved into the artillery zone—the Marder that had withdrawn to the edge of the table way back in turn 2 and had just finally gotten to move forward again.

That tiny accident turned out to be fatal for the German side, as it caused a company-wide morale check that failed horribly. All the Germans suddenly decided to withdraw! This was one of the most exciting moments in the game, as a very unlikely victory for the Russians was now possible.

Stockels table_21_end turn 11 bound 2_crop.png
Russians finally get into the village but are in big trouble
Stockels table_21_end turn 11 bound 2_crop.png (166.09 KiB) Viewed 1248 times


In turn 12, Russian LMG groups east of the village finally started putting down German infantry before they could even start the retreat. An RPG round from the southeast destroyed a Marder in town from long range, and the last remaining BTR took down an RPG group south of town. That BTR’s attached RPG group neutralized another Marder at the edge of the village. Suddenly this was looking like not such a fluke after all. The Russians were actually running the Germans out of town.

The decimated German company had to test morale again, and they failed, ending the game in a rout. Only 1 BTR made it to the village with infantry, and only 1 fire group in the village survived, but some wicked firepower brought them the victory, especially when the RPG groups finally got within range.

Stockels table_22_end turn 12 bound 1_crop.png
Soviets finally run the Germans out of town--an unlikely victory!
Stockels table_22_end turn 12 bound 1_crop.png (136.81 KiB) Viewed 1248 times


Thoughts
This was a fun four weeks of gaming, despite the lack of cover and all the shooting back and forth. The scenario turned out to be very well balanced even without cover for the Soviets, since I never knew how it was going to end, and the side that seemed to be losing most of the game finally won it in the end.

The SabreSquadron rules are interesting, and its designers obviously know a lot about military capabilities in the ‘80s. I learned about missile range and destructive power on the ‘80s battlefield that never was. I also learned about the importance of keeping your units organized to avoid command confusion. I liked it.

The Google Map was nice for the most part. It’s a little tough to make out individual buildings to see exactly where infantry should be, but at this scale it’s all a little abstract anyway. It was a lot easier than creating my own map. But in the future I may add artificial cover to a map like this. In the end, I was glad I didn’t, because I think denying the Soviets cover kept the game balanced. The Germans were able to keep units in reserve, but they still couldn’t keep the village.
"...military glory, that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood—that serpent's eye that charms to destroy..." --Abraham Lincoln, 1848

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Re: First SabreSquadron solo play, Soviets attack West Germa

Postby josta59 » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:54 am

I thought I'd share someone else's AAR of a very similar game a few weeks ago, this one using actual miniatures (so it's much prettier, not that I care). There's much less to read in this one, and the author is focused more on the rules themselves, so you get a better sense of what the game is about.

http://soundofficerscall.blogspot.com/2015/08/sabre-squadron-game-cold-war-hotma.html
"...military glory, that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood—that serpent's eye that charms to destroy..." --Abraham Lincoln, 1848


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