Category Archives: 1984

Conducting a Hasty Attack

There seems to be some interest in a recent post I made on Twitter regarding a Modern Spearhead game played on a very small table. I thought it worthwhile expanding briefly on the game here.

As regular readers will know we normally play reinforced brigade level actions. However, for this game my I wanted an introductory game for a player who wasn’t familiar with Modern Spearhead, though he was familiar with the Spearhead rules in general. Now, we use the ground scale of 1” to 125m which in the alternate scale in Modern Spearhead means movement and ranges are reduced. For example a main battle tank is visible moving in the open at 12” and something like BMP or T-64B moves around 8” per turn, or less if moving and firing. This provides plenty of manoeuvre room on a 1.8m x 1.2m table.

This time I wanted to reduce the forces involved so we could focus on the process of combat. After some thought I decided on a small Soviet Hasty Attack, from march column, against a single NATO battalion deployed in defence. With just one defending battalion I opted for a table just 24” wide and 36” deep. That equates to an area 3km wide by 5km in depth. With such a small table we must assume that all the normal manoeuvre, so critical in a typical game has occurred off-table and now the clash occurs.

While I initially considered using West Germans I eventually opted for a French infantry battalion, some three VAB companies, supported by the battalion’s mortar company. This was bolstered by a two additional support companies to introduce different weapon systems. In particular a company of AMX-10RC and two VAB ATGW platoons. Off table was a Roland SAM system and a weak artillery battalion of just two batteries of F3 self-propelled guns with a handful of fire missions. The French commander deployed in three areas. In the centre an infantry company with an AMX-10RC platoon on a hill. On the left the remaining two AMX-10RC platoons with two infantry platoons deployed in a wood. On his right, withdrawn somewhat, another infantry company was deployed around a farm complex. Further back two VAB ATGW platoons armed with HOT provided additional anti-tank support.

Below, a view of the French centre showing an infantry company supported by a platoon of AMX-10RC armoured cars.

The Soviets comprised two BTR-60PB battalions, each with an attached tank company, though without AA as I was trying to restrict the multitude of Soviet weapons systems the Soviet commander needed to contend with. The frontage was such that only one battalion could attack at a time, which meant of course the second would likely be the follow on force. This aligned to my original concept of the advanced elements of a Motor Rifle Regiment deploying for a hasty attack.

These battalions were screened by the remainder of the Divisional Reconnaissance company, now understrength. They were supported by the off table the Soviet Regimental artillery battalion (122mm D-30) and very limited support from an understrength 2S3 152mm Battalion. Finally, there were two sorties of two Su-7 Fitters available. I felt these elderly aircraft were not going to unbalance the scenario too much.

The Soviet commander focussed his advance down the left flank where much of his initial battalion was screened by a stream from the French centre. Clearly he expected the enemy to be astride the more central road, which they were!

As you would expect the advance was led by reconnaissance elements. However, despite his best efforts some Soviet platoons, advancing more centrally, were engaged by the French centre with Milan and AMX-10RCs with predictable results causing some initial consternation. This provided a good example of the strengths and weaknesses of ATGWs. With some BTRs burning, but with the Milan firing posts detected, Soviet divisional artillery assets were tasked with a bombardment of the French centre. However, this artillery was limited as the same guns were needed for the suppression of French SAM systems (off table).

On the Soviet left the advance made good progress with the outnumbered French company initially holding its fire, with the exception of the battalion 120mm mortar, until the advancing Soviets entered the dedicated ATGW platoon kill zone, this being held back behind the infantry on high ground. Once engaged by the combination of small arms and HOT missiles the Soviets began their expected artillery fires, though these were however limited by French artillery targeting command and control assets. Below, the French right in the foreground is under some pressure.

However, the farm position on the French right was compromised and under with it under heavy attack likely to succeed the Soviet second battalion was released. It was soon apparent that this battalion would follow the first battalion before likely breaking out and outflanking the French centre. As this second battalion moved forward it crossed a portion of the French centre and in so doing suffered casualties.

Yet, with the French right collapsing the French commander was forced to relocate his uncommitted company on the left. Below, it can be seen advancing.

Moving from its concealed position the company commander was expected to flank the Soviets. Unfortunately, as the company moved forward it was attacked by three Su-7 Fitters (one model) using conventional bombs.

Unfortunately, with our gaming window at an end we had to call time. However, the tactical exercise had provided an excellent game. It involved several of the rules I had hoped to introduce. These included electronic warfare, counter battery fires, ATGWs, air support. An ideal combination for the new player. Despite all these extras the complexity didn’t distract the Soviet commander from his focus on delivering a reinforced battalion level attack. As such it provided an excellent introductory game. I think the scenario warrants further refinement after which I will place it on line, including some suggestions for playing it as a solo game.