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Subject: Scenario 1: Dawn's Early Light rss

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Giles Dorrington
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Day 1: Dawn of May 14th saw the Soviet First Tank Army streaming across the open countryside of the Eisenbach Gap. Well supported by artillery and chemical munitions; their initial strategy was centred around a swift advance by road, hoping to engage the opposing NATO forces before they had time to react.

To the north, the initial advance of the 1st Guards Tank division went well. However, the limited road network meant that an unexpectedly quick response by NATO airpower caught them still in densely packed columns and the lead elements of the spearhead suffered casualties.

To the south a terrible communications blunder meant that the 47th Guards Tank division were late leaving their jumping off points and were still a long way from engaging the US 5th Armoured division which was defending the area around Eisenbach.

During first few hours, and despite continuing losses from NATO airpower, the 1st Guards continued their swift advance only to find that, rather than trying to cling on to every inch of German soil, the Bundeswehr's 1st Panzer division had taken advantage of the confusion amongst Pact forces and executed a staged withdrawal from their initial positions.

Seeing the effectiveness of the NATO airstrikes, the German command had decided that withdrawing before the Pact advance would both allow continued airstrikes to weaken 1st Guards, and draw them into the bottleneck of open ground between Eben and Hagenstadt. However, 1st Panzer's infantry was unable to extricate themselves quickly enough. Unwilling to leave them to their fate; once they reached the defile between the mountains and the rough ground to the north 1st Panzer turned their Leopard II tanks around and deployed to meet the advance of 1st Guards.

Confident in their T80s and reputation as the best of the Soviet Union, 2nd and 3rd regiments threw themselves at the middle of the German lines.
Initially they managed to inflict heavy casualties upon 2nd brigades panzers, decimating 1 battalion, then 1st Panzer struck back.

All along the line 1st Panzer's Leopards extracted a terrible toll upon the already weakened lead formations of 1st Guards. Their reinforcements in the shape of 117th Guards were still east of Eben, whilst the Germans 3rd brigade was already feeding reinforcements into their lines. Realising 1st Guards had already given their all and that night was soon to fall the Soviet command ordered them to fall back.

To the south the speed of the Soviet advance had left them thinly spread and American M1s, seizing the initiative, sprang forward to surround and obliterate one tank battalion, while badly damaging another. However, a communications breakdown meant that they were unable to withdraw before nightfall and they suffered casualties as the rest of 47th Guards advanced.

Night saw both sides try and reorganise and reequip their weakened formation. For NATO the first day had, largely, vindicated their tactics. 1st Panzer had executed a successful withdrawal, and chosen an ideal location for their tank battalions to make their stand. Although they had lost a battalion of the valuable Leopard tanks and suffered other casualties for the complete destruction of only one Pact armoured battalion; every other tank battalion in 2nd Guards had suffered casualties at the hands of the Germans, and 1st Guards Tank regiment had been reduced to little more than a single battalion in strength.

The US 5th Armoured had also inflicted heavy casualties on the lead elements of 47th Tank, but were now exposed on east side of the Eisen river.

For the Soviets, their initial communications breakdown and the effectiveness of NATO airpower had cost them dearly. Although 47th Guards had only suffered minor casualties and was now in position to engage the Americans around Eisenbach, to the north 1st Guards had been severely weakened by the Germans and only the 117th Infantry regiment was still at full strength.

For the second day they decided to change tactics. Still having their chemical and artillery assets available, as well as now having air and gunship, they decided to take the time to engage NATO with all their available formations and then launch a mass attack supported by artillery and chemical munitions.



Day 2: US 5th Armoured, aware of the danger of being caught in an easily surrounded salient, managed to withdraw to the west of the river. Although this meant temporarily abandoning Eisenbach, as well as an infantry battalion that had been unable to retreat before being cut off by the advancing Soviets, this put the river between them and the bulk of 47th Guards.

Despite suffering further casualties, mid-morning saw 1st Guards in position before the German lines, while the majority of 47th were in position on the opposite bank of the river from the Americans. Aware that this was the perfect opportunity to use their artillery and chemical assets, the Soviet command prepared to order an attack upon all fronts; only to find that communications with 1st Guards division had been lost.

Taking advantage of the confusion 1st Panzer destroyed another two Soviet tank battalions. The Americans, with gunship support, also managed to inflict heavy casualties on the Pact armoured regiments, destroying two battalions, although not without casualties to themselves.

Finally, early afternoon saw the Soviets re-establish communications and launch an attack across all fronts with artillery and chemical support. They threw everything they had into the attack, but despite inflicting casualties, failed to break the NATO lines.

NATO took then took the opportunity to withdraw and regroup for the night. Sporadic Soviet attacks continued late into the afternoon but failed to make a breakthrough. Overnight many of the NATO formations managed to reorganise and regain their strength, whereas the Pact seemed able to do little with their battered formations.



Day 3: The beginning of day three saw the Americans suffer from another communications breakdown. However, reinforcement from the 13th ACR had begun to arrive and further airstrikes largely prevented 47th Guards from capitalising upon their confusion. To the north 1st Guards, now at less than half strength, continued to suffer at the hands of 1st Panzer.

The Soviet command realised that the situation in the north was largely hopeless. However, reinforcements in the shape of 33rd Motor Rifle division were beginning to arrive and the decision was taken to concentrate all available armour against the Americans. If successful this would enable them to both retain control of Eisenbach and open a route to the west and the heartland of Germany. To this end 2nd Guards Airborne were dropped near Schneiderburg to cut off the Americans west of Eisenbach.

With an almost sickening inevitability they now found that, yet again, communication with 47th Guards had broken down. This gave 5th Armoured the chance to replace it's frontline formations with fresh units while launching an attack on the airborne regiment to their rear. The Germans inflicted further losses on 1st Guards, who began to withdraw towards Eben,

Sporadic fighting continued into the early evening and throughout the night. 2nd Guards Airborne was surrounded and obliterated, although the Pact forces finally managed to cross the river at Nässerbruck and take the town. Conversely NATO again took the opportunity of lulls in the fighting to reorganise and resupply many of their formations.



Day 4: Dawn of day 4 saw the infantry of 33rd Motor Rifle desperately trying to contain the German advance around Eben while the divisions armour had been moved up to the front and now faced the 5th Armoured tanks around Eisenbach.

NATO gunships took their toll throughout the day and by mid-morning, with the majority of their tanks lost, it was looking increasingly unlikely that the Soviets could even hold on to their gains, let alone achieve a breakthrough.

Early afternoon saw the Pact forces suffer one final indignity as the Americans reoccupied Eisenbach. By the end of day four what was left of 47th Guards was almost surrounded in Nässerbruck while the Germans continued their advance south, finally breaking through what was left of 33rd Motor rifle.

Conclusion: Although it might seem as if NATO had a relatively easy time of it, on a least a couple of occasions the battle could have easily have swung in the Warsaw Pact's favour. However, whenever they were in a position to capitalise on an advantage, communications breakdowns conspired to rob them of their opportunities.

Poor tactics by a largely incompetent Soviet command (that'd be me whistle ) also didn't help. Their initial rush to engage the NATO forces meant that they were overly exposed to NATO airpower, and wasted many of their lead formations in uncoordinated assaults, rather than gathering their strength for a decisive blow.

NATO command, on the other hand (also me, so not a total doofus ), made a wise choice in opting for a strategic withdrawal rather than bitterly defending every inch of ground. That, and the fact that their armour was devastatingly effective against the Soviet tanks was what finally won them the day.
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Jeff Schulte
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Re: SCENARIO 1: DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT
Great Report! I played this scenario as well and had a great time of it. My NATO forces though had a much closer call. It's a great game and I just wish I had more opportunities to get this on the table.
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Giles Dorrington
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Re: SCENARIO 1: DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT
Thanks Jeff. I've got scenario 2 set up and ready to go, although like you my opportunities are currently a bit limited. That's one of the great things about DEL though, the smaller scenarios aren't a major undertaking.

Be interesting to see how this one works out, now I've got a better idea how to handle the Soviets.
 
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Darrell Pavitt
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You didn't try exiting any Soviets via the road just south of the lake?
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Pete Atack
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Quote:
You didn't try exiting any Soviets via the road just south of the lake?


He was fixated on the kill!

I've done this a few times playing DEL : I've found myself so 'into the fight' that I forgot about getting VPs by exiting units where VPs would have been gained. soblue
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Giles Dorrington
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Pete Atack wrote:
Quote:
You didn't try exiting any Soviets via the road just south of the lake?


He was fixated on the kill!

I've done this a few times playing DEL : I've found myself so 'into the fight' that I forgot about getting VPs by exiting units where VPs would have been gained. soblue


I've got to admit, in retrospect, that's a strategy I should have tried. But at the start, yeah, I was too focussed on Eisenbach .

I did contemplate it about midway during the game, but by that time the Soviets needed everything they had at the front lines. As you need at least three full strength battalions for the VP, and probably more ('cause you know NATO aren't going to just leave you alone), it's quite a commitment in terms of assets.

I'll probably give it a go when I get this scenario to the table again (starting on #2 at the moment).
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jason roberts
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Just got the game 2 days ago + it's twilight time in day 2 VP points be damned, 1st try is a tactical slugfest.Soviets have advanced far with acceptable losses.Day 3 should see a weakened force assualting the AFB while in the south reinforcements from both sides make this a real exciting encounter.I love the asset chits though I haven't had much luck using them so far.I don't know if my dice are freaky but I've had some great sucess on defensive fire + assult + overrun attacks. ( yes I doubled checked) I was really looking forward to this game + so far not disappointed.Great system,easily playable, great artwork Marc! Want to see more!laugh
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