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Subject: Memoir 1980: British Army of the Rhine rss

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Pete Belli
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This special "British Army of the Rhine" scenario is the second in a series of five Session Reports based on my "Memoir 1980" variant for the flexible Memoir '44 system. The scenario features the British 4th Armoured Division and a reinforced PanzerGrenadier brigade from the Bundeswehr contesting the advance of three Soviet divisions near the Weser River. The units represent battalions or regiments and each hex measures about 2 kilometers across.

My intention is to recreate the friction described by Clausewitz as it might apply to modern combat in Europe. The random nature of the Memoir ’44 system is a good match for this project, and the command problems which appear in a typical session will fit the scenario perfectly. The theory I’m presenting is simple. Instead of two efficient military machines clashing in a powerful WWIII style blitzkrieg I think the campaign might have turned into a cluster-fornication of epic proportions. The special rules developed for this scenario are intended to portray a confused and chaotic battle. I have retained as much of the original Memoir ‘44 framework as possible.

For additional background information on "Memoir 1980" please take a peek at this BGG article:

Memoir 1980: Warsaw Pact vs. NATO





The map depicts an area of West Germany. The compass would point north to the upper edge of the board in this photograph. Terrain tiles include woods, hills, rivers, bridges, and towns. Most units have three movement points. Woods and hills cost two movement points to enter. A town costs one movement point to enter unless an enemy unit is adjacent, then the cost is two movement points.

After fighting a brief delaying action the British 4th Armoured Division has concentrated to defend a river crossing. A brigade of West German troops has been assigned to protect the British left flank but the approach march of this unit has been slowed by Spetsnaz operations off the edge of the board. While a Soviet tank division pushes forward in the northern sector a motor-rifle division attempts to cross the river in the southern sector. Another motor-rifle division plus a couple of VDV (Soviet airborne force) battalions will create a diversion in the center.

This narrative was created because a meeting engagement is the most interesting battlefield encounter. The tardy West Germans will collide with the Soviet tank regiments in a furious, fluid struggle. A scenario based on symmetrical lines of similar formations can be an invitation to boredom, so I often attempt to develop unbalanced boards with clumps of units.





The formations in the British division represent three mechanized infantry battalions, two tank units, a recon unit, attack helicopters, and artillery. The right flank of the division has been refused to prevent Soviet units from bypassing the British after crossing the river. While the 4th Armoured is in good defensive terrain the UK force is outnumbered 2-1 by the Rooskies.

I have created a special "hot" deck of command cards for this scenario. Each player begins with a hand of five cards. Several unnecessary or unwanted cards have been removed. To speed play most of the Recon and Probe cards have been taken out of the deck. A player using one of the remaining Recon commands will immediately pull the top card from the deck and play it automatically, then draw another card to fill up his hand.





The vehicle is a Scorpion. I had trouble finding appropriate Micro Machines for the British and West German armies, but I did my best. Since the BAOR would have been reinforced with reservists rushed over from Great Britain the kneeling figure represents the experienced cadre of professional soldiers present in each battalion. British infantry will roll an extra battle dice in every attack until that cadre is destroyed, and the kneeling figure is always the first miniature removed if the UK infantry takes a hit.

NATO has air superiority so the British and the West Germans have jets available. It is possible for Soviet aircraft to appear over the battlefield with a lucky roll of the dice. Aircraft can perform three types of missions: direct ground support during a battle, bombing runs at the end of a turn, or interdiction missions which pin enemy formations into position with no chance to move or attack.





The powerful West German brigade is out of position at the start of the battle. The formations represent infantry battalions, a tank battalion, and artillery. The brigade's recon unit is already at the front, slugging it out with the Soviets. Tank units move and fight using the standard Memoir ’44 rules. Since the miniatures are larger only two playing pieces will occupy a hex with the third armored vehicle in a tank formation represented by a small flag token. The first hit on a tank unit removes the flag.

The primary formation in the Soviet commander’s order of battle is the motor-rifle division. A motor-rifle division contains one artillery regiment, two regiments with BTRs, one tank regiment, and one regiment with BMPs. Infantry formations use a variation of the standard Memoir '44 rules and roll a 3-2-1 sequence on the battle dice. Mechanized infantry can move three hexes or move two hexes and fire. Each mechanized infantry unit includes four figures and a vehicle. The vehicles do not count as a miniature. Regiments equipped with BMPs roll an extra battle dice since the BMPs were superior infantry fighting vehicles. Soviet tank divisions contain three tank regiments, a mechanized infantry regiment with BMPs, and an artillery regiment.





Soviet Doctrine rules attempt to reflect the inflexible command structure entangling the lower echelons of the attacking army. Any formation conducting a close assault is required to advance into the vacated hex regardless of the tactical situation. However, airborne formations are never forced to advance because these elite commanders were given more opportunity to display initiative.

The WG units guarding a crucial bridge will soon be smashing that isolated Soviet regiment and moving to the front. The bold Soviet commander can score victory points by capturing bridges, moving units to the northwest corner of the board, and wrecking NATO formations. The cautious NATO player must avoid heavy losses and keep the Soviets locked up in the bend of the river so the Commies can't achieve a breakthrough. The airmobile battalion shown in this photograph fought heroically to delay the Soviets on the northern flank until the commander of that Bundeswehr PanzerGrenadier brigade got his ass in gear!

A staff officer miniature can be assigned to a formation at the end of a turn. Any formation accompanied by a staff officer is automatically activated during the following turn, but this requires advance planning on the part of the player. In this scenario each of the three armies has one staff officer. An attacking Soviet unit with a staff officer attached is not required to advance after close assault according to the Soviet Doctrine rule.





The lonely Bundeswehr formations attempting to slow the Soviet thrust were quickly ground into dust by Soviet infantry assaults supported by massed artillery fire. By the time the full WG brigade arrived the Soviets were threatening to envelop the British nothern flank. Artillery units include a vehicle, a commander, and a block representing the formation’s reserve ammunition supply. The first hit on an artillery unit destroys the ammunition; the second hit knocks out the commander and the formation is removed from play. A player may choose to expend an artillery unit’s reserve ammunition supply during one attack. This option allows the player to conduct two fire missions.

The attack helicopters shown in this photograph have unlimited movement and fight like flying tanks with a 3-3-3 battle dice sequence. Because of the threat posed by SAM launchers helicopters may never be ordered into a hex adjacent to an enemy unit. Everybody has choppers in this scenario. There are extremely cool Soviet rocket launcher units and special rules for limited, non-lethal chemical warfare attacks.

The single session of the BAOR scenario was satisfactory (NATO won) but I need to make a few changes. There was too much crowding among the Soviet formations at the beginning of the game so I need to shift the entire map configuration to the east by a couple of hexrows if I play again. I might not, though. Call me an Ugly American if you must, but I really enjoyed maneuvering the big US mech division in the other scenario more than shifting these two smaller NATO formations around. We'll see...

Thanks for taking a few minutes to read this lengthy article.

The vehicles are Micro Machines or Hot Wheels. The figures are 1:72 scale miniatures Esci and Caesar. The attack helicopters are from Chopper Strike and the rest of the aircraft are from my personal collection.
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Leslie Taylor
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This reaffirms a daydream I've had that Days of Wonder should do Memoir '84, a Cold War goes hot theme. I think you show a lot of the feasibility of this... and cool mini's.

Great work!
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Pete Belli
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Thank you for the positive comments.

I have enough figures and vehicles to create three more Session Reports in the "Memoir 1980" series. The scenarios include a Soviet invasion of Poland in 1980, Korea in the late 1970s, and Afghanistan in the 1980s.

I'm also working on "Lasers Over Laredo" which is a Memoir '44 scenario portraying a Fortress America battle. Yes, it does include hovertanks!
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Barry Kendall
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Another great job, Pete! I marvel at your creativity and productivity in devising and presenting these scenarios.

One word:

PUBLISH!

PUBLISHPUBLISHPUBLISH!!!

Pllleeeaaaasssssssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee????????????????
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Sim Guy
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Have you had any contact with, or interest shown by, DoW in formalizing your effort?

As a player variant, it's only necessary to have the rule mods in hand, and it would be up to the players to find the figures or build pieces, so it wouldn't even have to go PnP as long as the files were available.
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Bry Barnes
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Looking at your tanks you could always use GHQ tanks. They are pretty detailed and have a wide range of vehicles.

They are 1/285th scale though, but I somehow think they'd fit well.
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Pete Belli
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Battlerbritain wrote:
Looking at your tanks you could always use GHQ tanks. They are pretty detailed and have a wide range of vehicles.

They are 1/285th scale though, but I somehow think they'd fit well.


Yes, those tanks would certainly be a much better fit with Memoir '44.

Once I got started on my collection of Micro Machines for other scenarios I was "trapped" in that scale, even though it wasn't the best option.

Live and learn... cry
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