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Subject: Scenario three and four-The Americans tase defeat rss

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In what will probably be my last sessions of MBT for a while (work commitments ruin everyone's fun) the poor Americans receive a dose of their own medicine.

Previously, I was a little unsure of how the Soviets are to beat the US when they are well positioned and dug in, however, now cracks are starting to show.

A rematch of Scenario 3 saw the Soviets change tactics. After the Scenario 1 and 2, they were used to having a large advantage in frontal armour/firepower which caught them seriously off guard in this scenario when they encountered the seriously horrible Abrams, which already starts in strong positions, dug in. A hard lesson to learn for a pair of inexperienced players, as the Soviets were exploded turn after turn until they eventually disintegrated. Even the Bradleys were racking up kills on transports with rapid firing 25mm cannons.
So, this time, the Russians played it sneaky, spending the first couple few turns moving up behind the large hill to the north of the map. In the south, a handful of transports exposed a hidden Abrams and Bradley with Infantry on the smaller southern hill. A charge into the teeth of the US guns eventually led to the US destruction by close assault by about turn six or so with the loss of four transports and two squads. A couple of early ND hits short-changed the Americans, followed by some extremely lucky bailout rolls for the Soviets, kept infantry on the board. Lucky rolls for the fist round of close assault (uphill, dismounted attack) caused suppression on the Americans and essentially sealed their fate, but the fighting dragged on a little longer. This victory in the south, put the remaining soviet infantry in the south in a position to assault US units facing in the wrong direction (two transports and three squads survived). This would seriously unbalance the US.
In the north, The soviets snuck into some tree and got some Indirect Fire down which started suppressing dug in units. Most Soviet fire was focused on Bradleys, as fire on the Abrams' was essentially wasted, for the hope of a lucky bailout is too much to hedge your bets on (less than 10 needed for a ND result). Meanwhile, some lucky shots from the US managed to track hit a whole platoon of T-80's, over two turns! This turned them into bunkers, just sitting plugging away for the rest of the game.
In the end, the Soviet player continually played movement commands on some spare units out of LOS, waiting for the US player to not play an overwatch, getting carried away with fire commands. Once this happened, the soviet player gunned his engines, and moved behind the US positions. This was the beginning of the end for the US, as they had no way of dealing with close range Soviets attacking from multiple angles at point blank range. Both sides lost tanks, but once the Soviets moved up his reserve mechanised infantry that had been hiding the whole game, the writing was on the wall. Tanks simply cannot sustain close combats with infantry. Note for the future, every single tank in woods or urban terrain absolutely needs infantry support, or it is as good as dead once enemy infantry arrives. By the time this happened, the remnants of the soviet players southern assault was moving up to clear out stubborn tanks, and the US player, rapidly being surrounded and short of options, conceded. Finally the Russians take home a win! The Russian player needs to really time his big assault well in this scenario, taking his time, and accepting that once he goes for it, he really has to commit and accept the mighty Abrams will not go down easily, but once flanked and in no position to fight off infantry, it's game is up.

Scenario four, blew our minds. Finally, we felt we had graduated to bringing a helicopter on the board.
"So... I can move over 20 hex's, shoot, then move again and shoot again... every turn?"
"Erm... that's what it says here..."
"Wow"
"let me re-read it... wait... yeah. Twice a turn."

Ouch. The US player was completely unprepared for this level of danger and normally impregnable tanks were promptly flown around and blown up from behind. Lacking the confidence in his cupola machine guns, the US player also did not commit to an serious attempt to shooting it down, trusting the cover of the town to keep him safe. All units left in forward defence were systematically hunted down and murdered by the Hind, whilst the ground based force moved up into a position from the south to assault the town.
Then came the planned artillery.
"So, now my planned artillery comes in?"
"You gonna roll for it? Hang on you cant even spot that hex"
"Erm, I don't have to. I wrote it down at the start... look"
"Give me those rules, surely you can't... oh. You can. "
To be fair, the Soviet player picked his Hex and turn with uncanny accuracy (although earlier in the game, planned IF landed on some completely empty hex's)
Mass suppression occurred, the Russians drove up to the town, Infantry started debussing in the outskirts and the US player conceded having left almost all of his infantry outside of the town in a forward defence, to protect his tanks in woods, a lesson learnt from the previous scenario. This scenario definitely needs a replay.

The primary issue (it's not really that much of an issue) is that both players need to be really familiar with a scenario to be able to put up a decent game. There is so much to consider (deployment is normally the decider in most wargames I find) from objectives, to being completely familiar with the capabilities of *every* unit on the board, to the map, to the turn limit, everything, that you can't really understand a scenario until it has been played at least once. Whenever we try a new scenario, something new catches us out that pretty much ends the game for one player.
Hopefully, with a few more games (next year) under our belts we will get an eye for it and be able to have a go at any scenario and have a fairly decent idea of what will work and what will not.
Scenario 5 has fast jets, so I don't doubt that will produce some hilarious tactical decisions as well (we have already decided the Stinger missile is going to hide in a building and stay there the entire game)
In the meantime I might design a scenario with an Apache just for giggles.

I am quite intimidated by scenarios that are so large they have several companies on the board, each with it's own cohesion point and command radius. How do other players keep track of who is in what company once the APFSDS starts flying? At the moments we use tiny bits of post-its to keep track of what units are (especially infantry with motor rifle, heavy motor rifle, engineers, recon, spigots and so forth) and have a gentleman's agreement not to blow up command units unless it is the most viable shot available. This is the first game I've played where the information is not on the counters and I much prefer to keep as much information on the board as possible in order to keep the speed of the game up. Besides, more player admin off board only leads to more tactical errors by forgetting what unit has/is what in the heat of the moment. Playing more than one company might have to be resolved by having a little yellow post-it on every counter...

I hope you have enjoyed reading this and I look forward to reading any insights or anecdotes you might have
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Mark Drake
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Good reports,and will note your observations when I play these solo.Hope to read more of your reports soon.

 
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Fernando Sola Ramos
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I have enjoyed this AAR a lot. You've made some really interesting points here:

Quote:
The primary issue (it's not really that much of an issue) is that both players need to be really familiar with a scenario to be able to put up a decent game. There is so much to consider (deployment is normally the decider in most wargames I find) from objectives, to being completely familiar with the capabilities of *every* unit on the board, to the map, to the turn limit, everything, that you can't really understand a scenario until it has been played at least once.


You couldn't be more right. I would add that you need to have a plan (from the plan comes the deployment), you need to understand the capabilities of the units, you need to know what the objectives are (and keep track of VPs at every moment), and, finally, once you know all the above, you need to manage time, something that most players forget and end losing games because they rush to the objectives too early.

Quote:
I am quite intimidated by scenarios that are so large they have several companies on the board, each with it's own cohesion point and command radius.


These scenarios are perfect for multiplayer. If you play one vs one, assign different objectives to each company and keep them separated (at least until they converge to a VP location).

Quote:
I hope you have enjoyed reading this and I look forward to reading any insights or anecdotes you might have


I've enjoyed the reading a lot. If you are enjoying MBT, wait for FRG and BAOR. They come with VERY interesting scenarios and new terrain and objectives.
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Allen Dickerson
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Well, that was a great teaching moment, if nothing else.

Good thing that this game looks like it has good replayability. You'll be able to factor in what you've learned, and next time, you should be treated to a whole new game.

I've found that, if I don't have any sound historical background (and in MBT, it's all hypothetical), a game looks TOTALLY different to me the second time around. If I do have a good grasp on what *did* happen, it helps me form a quick assessment of whether the historical plan (at least for my side) was a good one, or whether I should try to find another way to get the job done, or to reverse the verdict.

And, of course, any game you play more than once looks different the second time around, since you've used your "mulligan" to work out the kinks. Things that were insignificant or unknown to you will attain their proper importance and you can better "see" different possibilities on the map than you could when you barely knew the rules.
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One day I will be so conversant in MBT that a mere glance at the map and units will force a strategy to start forming in my mind.
Then I will become the International MBT Champion of the World (also known as the rather catchy IMBTCOTW)
I am very lucky that I am in a position in my life where I have both a willing opponent and the time to play the game. We can look at a the aftermath of a mission and go "oh well, we will know for next time" and look forward to the next game. If my game time was much more limited I can see MBT being a somewhat empty experience, as we would not really have the chance to learn from rules mistakes and tactical errors. We would end up finishing each scenario going "well... that took a long time to play completely wrong". I hope one day with enough familiarity it becomes a Beer & Pretzels game, where only the most obscure rules need to be referenced, and tactical decisions are obvious to both players. Until then, more games need to be had.
I feel i have reached a high watermark in gaming complexity and next time I wander into my FLGS or onto the GMT website, I know I do not require anything with any more weight than this game, that would be just too much and would not get played. I am however intrigued into maybe giving its predecessor, Panzer, a shot as it looks like the same game but due to the simpler technology involved, might mean it plays a bit faster especially now we are reasonably familiar with MBT.
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