At the end of May we managed to replay the USMC assault on Bodo, an attempt to try out the same scenario from the Arctic Strike megagame back in April. Richard and Gordon generously let me have their force compositions, an airborne batallion and a sea transported infantry batallion with T55 battalion in reserve off table, together with a map of their set up. Ian and I were able to put together enough of the right Warpact equipment to pass muster as the opposition.
We set up the table using three 6x3ft folding tables with a blue cloth for the sea and carpet tiles for the terrain. The photo shows the table as we laid it out, with Bodo to the right and the fjord coast at the top of the view. The relief land forces would be coming from the east along the coast road (top left). The coast itself is modelled as heavily wooded, offering soft cover. All Warpact forces were dug in at the start of the game.
The crucial differences between this game and Arctic Strike was a) chemical weapons weren't available and b) pre-planned naval artillery was available to the USMC. The AAR below is based on my memory of the key events - I didn't take any notes at the time, but seem to me to show the key features of the game - apologies if I've missed anything out.
The table layout looking south.
This time I chose to land two infantry battalions and a reinforced M60 tank company across the beaches, keeping the third battalion in reserve to call in across the beach or by helo wherever the opportunity presented itself. In the first turn, the Americans laid down a pre-planned smoke barrage delivered by two batteries of naval artillery and the infantry and tanks stormed ashore with negligible losses. The Bronco transported FAC met with the same fate as at Arctic Strike, being brought down by manpack SAM fire (I'm going to have to keep their feet on the ground in future. The Soviet response was to move artillery and air controllers to get a better view of the landings and to get the off board batallion of T55s heading south towards the threat from the coast.
In the second move, the USMC forces began to spread out laterally, assaulting or direct firing at dug in infantry around the WW2 fortification and wind turbine, while the armour continued to advance inland. The Soviet response was largely to call in the salvo rocket artillery assets (all 10 batteries of them) and keep the T55s moving south.
By the third turn, the T55s were in sight and Seacobras were called in to attack, to assist the M60s in their line-of-sight slugging match with the T55s. The TOWs of the Seacobras accounted for a T55 stand, but SAM fire revealed a number of Soviet units. The M60s also began to take a toll of the T55s. Dutch heavy artillery counterbattery fire began to whittle down the rocket artillery. In the Soviet turn, two M60s were suppressed, but saving on a three was enough to ensure no losses. Further rocket artillery strikes again whittled down some infantry, but not enough to be a problem.
In turn 4, Seacobras and M60s again whittled down the T55s, leaving only 3 stands by the end of the turn. Naval gunfire support also began to inconvenience the Soviet SAMs and the adjacent dug in infantry and HQs. The Soviets began to pull back some of the outlying forces, especially SP mortars, which blundered on the way back across the airstrip.
The last two turns of the evening saw the left flank USMC infantry batallion, less a company still engaged in mopping up Soviets in the WW2 fortification, advancing towards the hardened aircraft shelters. On the right flank, infantry supported by LVTP-7s were attempting to mop up dug in engineers armed with flamethrowers on the right flank - tricky. In the centre, the M60s dealt with the T55s. The Soviet response started to cause losses to the infantry battalions.
So, in 6 turns the USMC had established a reasonably firm beachhead and still had an infantry battalion in reserve. The Soviets had lost most of their T55s and a significant proportion of their artillery and SAM assets. So, what were the main differences between the Arctic Strike version and the replay. Well, the chemical attack on turn 1 at Arctic Strike eliminated a significant proportion of the infantry in the beaten zone and suppressed and degraded all of the M60s. When subsequently hit by rockets (lots of them) the armour was knocked out (4 platoons worth) and infantry battalions were seriously degraded. This time, the cover of smoke prevented rocket attacks in turn 1 - by turn 2 the infantry and armour had been able to spread out significantly. Rick, the Soviet player, had responded as aggressively as he could with the forces available, much as Richard and Gordon did at Arctic Strike, but without the initial chemical attack and concentration of rockets, the Soviet fire was not capable of seriously whittling down the attackers, particularly the M60s which are surprisingly tough.
All in all a fun game. Thanks to Rick for proving an aggressive opponent and to Ian and Mick for umpiring and generally seeing to fair play, as well as providing all manner of period flavour.