On an aptly wet Sunday, Richard put on an interesting Cold War moderns game at his cabin, set in a misty December '84, using his 1:300 scale figures and Sabre Squadron rules.
Three companies of Soviets (Patrick (until 12:30pm), Noel, Alex, me) took on a company of West German troops (Rob and Doug) while crossing the German border at dawn.
The Soviets conducted recon, then placed two additional bridges over the river. We laid down smoke from our artillery on the middle of the table and divided into three commands - Noel taking over from Patrick before lunchtime. Our aim was to cross over and take as many objectives (villages) as possible.
Noel landed two groups of infantry by helicopter behind German lines, and occupied a farm, but also lost half his men in a crash. He managed to hold out for most of the game.
While Patrick and later Noel secured the Soviet left, Alex (right flank) and I (centre) moved fowards. The terrain funneled us towards the waiting West German positions, which took a heavy toll against our at times poorly coordinated vehicles.
While everyone was playing Sabre Squadron rules for the first time, the Soviets were additionally impeded by very poor rolls to call in artillery support. I tried every turn but only managed to do so once, without a result.
The rivers on the left seriously slowed the Soviets down, despite being fordable, while allowing Doug's forces to inflict many casualties on Patrick/Noel's command, from behind hedges.
Alex made good progress on the right, despite facing two dug-in pockets of resistance (Rob) and long range fire from the West German tank destroyers.
I was pleased to have taken three-quarters of the first village by end of play, with just one remaining West German unit hanging on there.
However, with the West German reserves (Leopard tanks) arriving near the end of the game, the Soviets had failed to progress beyond the first village.
While the West Germans took heavy losses on their first company, the Soviets lost over half their own tanks and many APCs, if far less infantry. We were too congested on our left, and did not support one another in the centre or on the right.
Overall, the Soviets had done fairly well for our first go at these rules. Having read the rules before the game (first time ever?), I had a better idea than usual of what was going on. Even so, we were all learning as we played, which meant that a decisive breakthrough was unlikely this time around.
Thanks to Richard for organising and hosting a challenging scenario at his very nice cabin. We enjoyed ourselves in a friendly atmosphere and had a nice lunch to boot.
Everyone was keen to have another go, when we might plan our attack better. Sabre Squadron uses simple mechanics to simulate the complexity of modern warfare. Getting to grips with the multilayered tactics will be a matter of experience and practice.
I want one now...