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Firestorm: Stripes

The Team Yankee Global Campaign

Combat at Vilseck

Warsaw Pact
VS United States

E-game in a place American soldiers remember well

Vilseck and Grafenwohr are two places Americans stationed in Germany always remember and would like, mostly, to forget. While it seems an out of the way place, it's less than 60 miles from Regensburg and the Danube crossings, and thus critical terrain for a PACT drive heading south

The rain was annoying, and the scout was tired of being wet. His poncho covered him as did a half-hearted try at a sniper's gillie suit. That was all a sodden mess and would fall apart as soon as he moved. But under the poncho rain had crept along the ground, soaking his BDUs. Visibility was 600 meters or so. He did a double take when an M47 wreck appeared to come back to life, but realized it was a T55, taking advantage of the pouring rain to muffle its movements. When he saw BMPs and other T55s, it was time to report. The Commies were coming through the impact area!

Tank Battalion, 10th Motor Rifles, Czech 2nd Motor Rifle Division Porucik Pulkovnik Jaden Nikdo waited impatiently for the scouts to report. Crawling across the impact area, moving from old wreck to old wreck, had been maddening, but apparently the summer rain had cloaked the movement. NATO was either becoming predictable or tired; moving a mass of tanks through the training area had not occurred to them. The rain had slowed movement but not, fortunately made it impossible. After two weeks of chasing the Austrian holdouts into the Carinthian Alps, the Czechs had finally been relieved by the Southern Front, and were now available for weightier opponents.
The last bogged tanks were closing into the wooded portion of the training area. Now if his scouts would only report, before it got dark.

Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 4th Division Captain G.A.C. Smith waited impatiently on his scout teams to report the presence of the enemy. He had been given the joyful task of confronting an enemy penetration of the Vilseck training area with the Squadron's tanks, while the remaining units attempted to hold the line long enough for a Task Force to block the enemy beyond Vilseck.

Not for the first time, Smith wished for a different name. Every teacher in every school had pointed out George's name traced its roots to a hero or villain depending on point of view. Some classification officer in MILPERCEN had amused himself by assigning him to the armored branch and a branch assignments officer had told him to his face that with a moniker like that he belonged in Cavalry. George wished he had been named Sue, like the song, because the actually name produced nicknames like GACK or outright hostility from Native Americans.

And if there wasn't something ominous about being in 7th Cavalry, he was named Sue.

Vilseck overhead. The impact area is the brown in the middle. Our fight will focus on the wooded high ground to the south

Game - We played Annihilation because BH didn't enjoy the experience of being tethered to objectives or reserves. In a way, tank fights really are about destroying an enemy tank force. His side of the compromise was facing a fully armed and functional T55 battalion. I also included 2 Hinds, just to introduce flak and helicopters. BH chose not to give up a tank for VADs

Vilseck start. Top of picture is north. Vilseck itself is just off the bottom of the map

Set up - BH rolled for Day/Night and got Dusk. As usual we took turns setting up. This took almost as many posts as the actual game. BH placed his first spearhead to the east, and I countered in the center. BH spearheaded to the west, and I placed my second unit in the near center. Then we took turns placing units. For once it wasn't badly out of balance - both sides had 2 recon and 3 maneuver and a HQ

BH was placing his forces aggressively, based on advice I passed him on using NATO tanks. Not sure I completely agree with that advice, but...info is info.

Vilseck PACT Turn 1

I won the toss. With Darkness looming I went straight in. No. 1 Company and the BC plus the BMPs with him went straight for Troop A and Troop B. No. 2 Company went for a blitz, to get tanks on the crest in front of them, and failed so they stayed behind the crest. No.3 Company and its accompanying BMPs did a road dash to encircle Troops A and Troop B. My fire from behind Troop B's flank was devastating, scoring 3 hits (1 BMP 73mm gun, 2 T55s) on 8 dice. Three tanks burned. The survivor failed morale. The Hinds managed to get their only hits of the game, ignoring two .50cal MGs to hit the HQ section twice, one dead, one bailed. Captain Smith transferred his guidon to an A Troop tank.

NATO Turn 1

BH saw the consequences of sitting still and firing while being effectively surrounded by 20 tanks, and so tried to breakout south west, moving Troop C's tanks to help out, and attacking No. 3 company. He hit and destroyed four of No.3 battalion's tanks; one other bounced a hit by rolling a 6 vs long range. Nobody else even got close to saving. BH left the scout section behind to block the road in front of No.1 company. So casualties were even but the M60s were exposed to retaliation

PACT Turn 2

I slid No.3 company's six surviving tanks to the west, getting 4 to flanking positions on the line of M60s. Next No.2 company climbed its rise and fired across the valley. Finally No.1 company with the BC blitzed, reversed directions, and managed to get three tanks to firing positions on Troop C. The Hinds drifted over to shoot either Troop C or survivors from Troop A. 3 BMPS that had accompanied No. 1 Company went after the Scout section stay behind, and the other BMPs moved back to center court to engage next turn.

I started with No.3 company, and they managed 2 hits on flank and 1 on front. BH bounced the front shot and lost two tanks to flank shots. Next I allocated 6 shots from No.2 company to the surviving M60s on the ridge, with 4 aimed at the bailed former-HQ tank. BH bounced the hit from the former HQ tank but two more tanks died on the ridge.

No.1 company managed two hits on Troop C's exposed tanks, and burned 1 bailed the other. The Hinds whiffed. The BMPs killed the ITV and the scout M113 said adios.

BH tried to remount the Troop A tank, and failed. Remounted the Troop C tank, but then blew the cross check to get into the woods for cover. This allowed the two C Troop tanks to shoot up the road, and kill two T55s with 4 shots at 4+ (wreck in the way). His

PACT Turn 3

Turn 3. No night, which would have prolonged the fight, but not changed it. The rest of No.1 company came up, flanking the bogged Troop C tank. No. 3 company moved to the crest, and its supporting BMPs blitzed, and took up missile positions. One of them advanced further to use its gun.

With tanks shots flying in, and tank turrets pointed in different directions, the results were mixed. Part of No. 1 company and all of No.3 company had moved, and so were hitting '6s' unless they could see the bogged tank exposed on the ridge. I managed to kill to M60s thanks to the bogged tank, but the survivor passed morale. The shot at the ITV from 2 missiles and 1 73mm gun managed to hit, a false target failed and the ITV went away, leaving the M113. But...both NATO units lived to sunset.

Away back in the original fight, ten T55s fired "in succession" as they rolled by the former HQ tank. Burning M60.

It might not be from the right war, but it gets the point across. PACT Victory, 6-1


Being aggressive pays big dividends, I don't deny it. But the meeting engagement scenarios leave you in the lurch if you act aggressively in setup and then roll a '1' (or '2' in this case) choosing the first mover. And when facing Panzerschwarm, that first move can be very painful.

At the end of it, that die roll left BH in an awkward position. His plan to dash over the hill and hose No.2 company down failed on that die roll. He managed to destroy 6 tanks, which isn't a fair trade for 12 M60s. Taking the first move, might have destroy half my command, but probably still lost.


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Warsaw Pact


  • bayankhan says:

    I agree with you about PACT hordes of tanks (I prefer PANZERSCHWARM) being tough to deal with in TY. A big part of that is board size vs speed vs range. Add in objectives and it can be difficult to draw. And mostly, draw because of time limits. My 60 point ‘normal’ list has 20 tanks, 15 BMPs, 3 Spandrels, 2 Hinds, 6 flakwagens and 24 infantry stands. With the first turn, can eliminate 6 Leo I/Jaguar or 4 M60s or 3 Challenger. Thus it becomes a table shape and type terrain issue., with NATO needing favorable terrain+favorable reserves and a lot of infantry

  • Jagdpanzer says:

    Yeah I think NATO lists really struggle without some way to slow or break down horde units, one of my few issues with TY is that the large warpac infantry units only need to roll morale when you are down to 2 or less stands. From a starting 24?? Crazy

  • Green Howards says:

    Nice report, I like the board game in the miniatures game.

  • CrazyIvan17 says:

    Good job Comrade! Another great AAR.

  • bayankhan says:

    Finally I tend to agree with you about the coin toss to decide first mover…but I’ve seen (and exploited myself) having certain knowledge of the first mover produce equally devastating results. If I know I’m going to be second mover I set up completely differently than when I’m sure of the first move. And when I’m sure of the enemy force, will further influence which I choose if I control the choice…none of which fits a ‘meeting engagement’ concept. For example, playing against big NATO tanks, I’ll hide and choose second mover so I can fire smoke to protect my advance.

  • bayankhan says:

    All tanks have a front 3 hexsides and flank 2 hexsides and rear one hexside. Two tanks in the same hex are assumed to be side by side unless they are facing different directions. Only seen that a couple times. So both can shoot through the front three hexsides w/o impediment, and only one can shoot to either flank, and both could shoot out the rear hex. Have only seen turret traverse a couple times but the line of the turret is easily determined because the hex of the target and hex of the shooter are known. Inscribed, so to speak.

    You can’t shoot through a hex occupied by a unit.

    We tried one tank to a hex and found that it caused too many other issues. A lot of blocked shots that on a tabletop wouldn’t have been blocked. That was last cycle.

  • bayankhan says:

    1st. That was his choice. I introduced helicopters instead of artillery to get to the right point value to match his and recommended taking VADs. He declined, counting on .50s. He has reconsidered. Even though, as I will point out, that 2 Hinds is not a particularly lethal way to spend 6 points. But other constraints (one formation no infantry, etc) forced me to that. An artillery battery with smoke is actually more useful than two Hinds. The other option was reduced points.
    2cd. We played tanks last Firestorm, and then we added infantry at the beginning of this cycle, and have switched back to tanks because he likes a low unit count. The list I played bears little resemblance to my normal 60 point list. Last time we played every tank vs tank combination in the game but M60s because stats and points would have been guesswork. So yes, he’s playing them preferentially at the moment. But what he’s really doing is deciding A) is this game worth a bigger investment than just Hammerfall and B) do I like the game enough to make the investment while waiting C) to see if it hooks his grandson and D)finding out which NATO army works best. (Obviously he will build a PACT force, if he builds) Winning isn’t relevant beyond posting. IF I was playing NATO, I’m pretty certain I would be getting my butt kicked in these games.

  • Jagdpanzer says:

    Also with your tanks like that stacked up behind each other, how do you know you are not blocking your own shots, with your own units? Or does everyone in range just get their full shots?

  • Jagdpanzer says:

    So you were going to introduce flak and helos, but he didnt take any AA? Also have you been suggesting to him to take anything but tanks? Is this guy just learning? I think it is very difficult to play this game in such an abstract way. In this case the US player would need to use mobility and cover to try to kill you in bits. Have you been suggesting to him to take different types of unit. He really seems to like M60s, but he keeps losing. I mean I know this hordes vs expensive tanks things seem to be your bag, but man I’d get sick of losing all the time, without actually trying anything new? I mean I said he needs to be more aggressive, but you need also to stay in cover at the start if you do not win the first turn. As an aside I find that roll in flames and TY crap, the guy who “wins” the roll off should chose who gets first turn, but that’s a separate issue.

  • General POTUS says:

    Interesting use of board game counters to re-count the battle.

  • Oberst Hunts says:

    Vilsek was a great little town in the 1980s.

  • Stone says:

    Congratulations on the win.

  • MajorGump says:

    I went to the Motor Officer Course in Vilsek. Every night at 5PM they rolled up the streets. Was the most boring place I ever went in Germany! WP can keep it!

  • Davehodo says:

    Good read. Solid report. Well done Comrade.