This scenario is effectively a mechanized warfare engagement with no broader supporting combined arms cast for either side (such as airstrikes, artillery, and mines as featured in the second tutorial). The Americans are fielding a total of eight M1A1 Abrams MBT’s and the Soviets are attacking with ten T-80UK MBT’s. Each side also has a single token HQ unit. In this game vehicles = steps, and steps are required to secure victory points. The American player is outnumbered with only 22 steps compared to the 49 steps that the Soviet AI player has.
The overall objective is to occupy a specific sector and that requires having 20+ more steps (vehicles) in the sector by the time the game ends. If one side falls below a certain level, there will be a prompt in game to offer an end of battle declaration.
I am playing the scenario in full 30 minute (simulated) turns. There are a total of 16 turns however this mission will be done long before that.
NATO units are intended to use stealthy movement by default which enables them to utilize any available local cover and concealment to optimal advantage while moving. WARSAW Pact forces typically put a premium on high speed movement and overall formation cohesion so they would generally not utilize stealthy movement.
Pregame Setup Phase One
This is the pregame setup phase where I can take the default disposition of forces and drag and drop them where I like within the blue bounding box. I can also issue orders at this point that will be executed immediately at the start of the game (and avoiding the command lag time penalty and the staff order point costs associated with giving these orders).
Pregame Setup Phase Two
I align my forces in the objective Sector Six in a diagonal pattern along the road leading to the northwest from the southeast. My two MBT companies are set back from the front formation to utilize their long range firepower on the tree line of the forested area. The individual Cavalry Teams (consisting of two M3 Bradley CFV’s each) are closer to the edge of the forest, and the opaque area indicates the LOS of one of the MBT units (each grid represents 500 meters).
While there is definitely variation in the game, the Soviet AI in this scenario typically comes through the woods in attempt to keep with their doctrine of the best offensive terrain not being the easiest, but rather the least well defended. It is certainly true that the forest in undefended, however if I were a Soviet tanker or BMP driver here I would not venture past that tree line if I wanted to make it home.
The lone HQ unit is placed back in grid 15-19 out of harm's way but still allowing its Command Radius to cover all of the attached units.
Turns one and two was uneventful as my units were deployed in the valley waiting for the Soviets to move into the area and be detected. During turn three contact was made with the enemy and a brutal exchange of firepower ensued. My NATO forces lost five vehicles (one of them being an Abrams MBT), while the WARSAW Pact forces lost 21 vehicles allowing me to maintain control of the objective area in Sector Six.
The Soviets are trapped at the edge of the forest and are being ripped apart by multiple firing positions.
Before turn four ends I receive the option to declare the battle over as casualties among the Soviets have exceeded 80% (and I accept).
The scenario ends in a Tactical NATO Victory outcome.
The end of turn Staff Overview and Summary indicates that I won the scenario by a score of 140 Victory Points to 5, based on occupying Sector Six (having 20+ more steps (vehicles) than the enemy at game end) for 100 points and 40 points for destroying 40 of their 49 total vehicles.
The end of turn Staff Diary details the distribution of my survivors and their 40 enemy kills (seven MBT’s, 31 mechanized infantry, and two HQ units). My forces lost one MBT and three Bradley CFV’s.
While this scenario was very short, it most likely played out as it would have in real life had a Soviet force came out of a tree line in the face of an entrenched NATO force able to utilize their longer range firepower to engage the enemy before they could even move forward into firing positions. These types of engagements most likely would have been over in a matter of minutes, with whole battalions and possibly divisions ceasing to exist on the battlefield over the course of just a few days.
A non-nuclear World War III might not have lasted a single week before both sides simply ran out of manpower or ammunition.
I have played this scenario a couple of times and actually lost it once playing as NATO. Playing as the WARSAW Pact however sucks because the AI NATO forces wholesale abandon the area and flee to the southeastern region of the map. The Soviet player can occupy the objective sector but inexplicably be unable to win any outcome better than a draw.