Okay, Cuba Libre is wrapped up, and while I've got big plans for future Cuban Liberation Expeditionary Force actions, an opportunity came up that I just couldn't pass up. Mr. Ben Lacy contacted me and let me know he was working on a new Cold War Gone Hot, Fulda Gap scenario book. If you're not familiar, Ben puts out skirmish and company-level rules, along with a slew of scenario books, under Britton Publishers. The scenario books are fantastic, right up my alley. I own about a dozen of them, and if I was independently wealthy I would not only own all of them, but I would play through them as well. I already have plans to use several of his Normandy books for my Kampgruppe Klink campaigns, as well as some other Normandy books for my All American campaigns. I also have several Pacific campaign books I'm looking to use, as well as some modern SOF stuff. I highly recommend them, they are great products for us wargamers.
In any case, Ben contacted me about Fulda Gap and begged me to playtest the scenarios for him. Okay, that's not true; he contacted me, and I begged him to allow me to playtest them, he graciously accepted my offer, and so I set out to put together all the forces I'd need to play out all ten scenarios. I'm really excited about this campaign, and I want to do it right. I'd intended on starting the war this weekend, but with wrapping up Cuba Libre and real life (in the form of one of my kid's birthday, school starting, and baseball practice starting up) I fell behind, and so I won't get started with the actual fights until next weekend.
But I've got the forces finished up, and that's what you see here. The setting is that the Soviet Union has decided to invade Western Europe, and the opening shots come where everyone expected, Fulda Gap. The book is set up so that you can play the scenarios in whatever time frame you wish, from the beginning of the Cold War right up to the end. I thought that was a pretty cool idea, as each gamer has his own, personal idea of what would be coolest, whether it be the 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s. While the first scenario officially starts with the exploits of the US 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, because of the heavy casualties and rapidly changing situation on the ground, I would argue that you could actually use the book for whatever NATO nation's forces you want, be it US, West German, UK, or otherwise.
Being a child of the 80's, growing up with various movies and books (World War III, Team Yankee, Red Storm Rising, The Third World War, The Day After, etc...) threatening our (US) death at the hands of the Red hordes, I chose to go with US forces in the year 1986. As always, I will form a fictional battlegroup (4th Troop, 11th ACR) with characters as platoon and company leaders, to take into battle.
On to the Yanks.
Now for some bonus material...
There are small villages at top left and top center, and a sizable town at bottom center. There are a few small rises, but no geographically significant elevations. The rises (one level) are at bottom left, bottom right, top right, the village at top center, and the open area to the left of that village. I don't think the scenario book called for any rises, so I didn't throw in any significant hills, but I wanted the table to reflect the rolling terrain. The rises are difficult to ascertain as I actually put the hills UNDER the terrain mat; moving up in the world. The table's still ugly though...
What you're going to see in a second is that 1) the Soviets have a huge force, and 2) the US has a pretty small force, so this is going to get real interesting real fast. I need to go upstairs and place the US defenders. As in real life, the Soviets are going to make heavy use of preparatory bombardments, and the US is going to make heavy use of minefields. As a solo player, you can see this poses some real game problems, i.e., the need to randomize the prep fires and minefields so that they are not too powerful, nor simply skirted by the player's knowledge.
My solution is to place the US defenders and their minefields, then draw up six separate attack plans (with differently plotted prep bombardments), then roll a dice to determine which one the Soviet side goes with. This will randomize the prep fires so I can't cheat as the US player and simply avoid them, and the Soviets will follow their planned routes of attack until (if) they run into US minefields.
If you've got a better, smoother, easier, and faster way of doing this, please let me know!
Stay tuned, the war starts this Saturday.