11 May 2014

MSH: The Bay

Ziggy and I managed to get to that game of Modern Spearhead yesterday. I'd worked out the scenario details during the week. The basic setup was that the USMC is trying to capture a fictional town on the Baltic which will be a useful landing port for further materiel and troops. The Soviets of course are doing all they can to prevent this.

I gave the Marines two battalions of infantry - one mechanized in Amtracks and the other to be dropped in by Sea Knights. The Marines also had a large air contingent - two Super Cobras, Harriers loaded up with rockets and a flight of A-7s with HARMs.

The Soviets would start with one MR battalion in the town and the rest of regiment arriving later (turns 4 and 6). The Soviets would have no aerial assets due to considerable US air superiority over the battlefield.

Here is my orders map:
Nothing too fancy. First battalion hangs out and tries to cause as many casualties as they can while waiting for 2nd and 3rd battalions to arrive. That town should really be a 2 X 2 sector town, not 4 X 4.

My forces deployed. We tested out some fog-of-war elements with this game. Actual models wouldn't be deployed on the table until they were spotted. Each side also had some dummy counters which were just false contacts.

My list of which markers are what.

The Marines begin their drive to Splotnik.

Meanwhile, the airmobile battalion gets dropped on the east side of the town. My marker 42 there is a Shilka which completely whiffed its shot at one of the transport helicopters.

A Sagger team pops off a shot at the lead LVTP and misses wildly.

The Marines continue their advance while the second half of the 2nd battalion is ferried in. The Shilka rolls another "1." That dude is fired. At least it'll be a beast chewing up infantry stands.

The Sagger team sails another missile over the heads of the advancing Marines on the west side of town, although the BTR team scores a very lucky suppression on one of the lead platoons.

Action shot involving a ruler, but you can see the proof of my lucky hit back there! My 120mm mortar got ranged in but didn't cause any damage.

Beginning of turn 4 and I get my first reinforcement battalion. Dummy counters lead the way, with T-62s and more BTRs behind. The regiment's Forward Observer and SA-9 battery are out to the left with clear lines of sight.

The Marines make contact. Ugh.

The Cobras go-a-hunting. Double ugh. They've spotted the lead elements.

Those two yellow markers are ranged-in artillery batteries. I had the most effective artillery phase of my career with 2S1s killing two platoons of infantry and the 120mm mortar suppressing an LVTP on the road. As it would turn out, my artillery simply lit a fire under the Marines' tails and they would hustle towards the town. Also note that my Shilka is gone, having been sniped by a Marine with a Dragon missile. Lucky shot if there ever was one!

Turn 5 would see a whole bunch of Marines pile into the town from the west. So much for holding Splotnik.

The Harriers' first pass accounts for two platoons of T-62s. The SA-9's missile was of no consequence.

The battle in the west side of Splotnik went terribly for the defenders. On turn 6 I received by second battalion of reinforcements - I chose to dispense with the dummy counters at this point of the game - it didn't matter much any  longer. You'll also note the second Marine battalion launching their assault into the town.

The Corsair makes its run at the SA-9 stand. I took my AA shot at a Cobra figuring a dead Cobra was worth more than Harrier or A-7 that wouldn't be coming back anyway. The Strela missed its mark, but the Navy pilot's aim was true, resulting in the destruction of the AA battery. No more air defense for me!

The town is overrun. My battalion commander actually survived the fight and killed a stand of Marines but he was left alone and surrendered.

No matter - if I rush the town before the Americans can set up a defense maybe I can contest it!

The reinforcements push forward hard! Unfortunately, the Harriers came back and took out a couple more stands of Second Battalion causing a morale test which they promptly failed.

No time for crying... I still have a full battalion. The Harrier makes its final gun run of the day taking out a stand.

My troops thunder into the town capturing the southeast sector. Well, liberating it for a few minutes. My artillery shook the hell out of the northeast sector.

Like I said, for a few minutes anyway. My BC accounted for a stand an I did manage a few more kills but when the Marine first battalion counterattacked I was done for.

We'd fought for ten turns. It was a very entertaining game. Having set up the scenario, I sort of had an idea of what the airmobile Marines would be doing, but Ziggy did something quite different with them. I figured they'd set up as a screen to hold off my reinforcements but he went straight into the town with both battalions. Good move on his part.

The Soviets needed more AA assets. I think an off-board SA-6 battery would be perfect, and maybe a ZU-23 or two in the town from the get go. I took the liberty of re-classifying the Harrier as a ground-attack aircraft giving it two runs per sortie. They were terrifyingly good but more, and more reliable, AAA would have balanced them out nicely I think. The ground troops were pretty well balanced, although the Marines were hell on wheels in close assaults.

We both liked the idea and execution of the "hidden deployment" markers so I'll add that to the good idea pile and keep it for later games.

The second battle of Splotnik is in the works...


  1. Very interesting report. We had a WWII SH game over the weekend on the town sectors were harder to clear.

  2. Nice one! Great little report and will look forward to the next!


    1. I'm considering Shipwreck as the sequel to this! Possibly a handful of missile boats and a sub trying to wreck the Marines' offshore assets in preparation of the recapture of the town. Of course it could go horribly wrong for the Reds.

  3. I like your scenario, excellent idea on the dummy markers. How much artillery did you assign to each side? I agree on adding the SA-6 umbrella from off-board. It would force the marines to deploy the A-7's for SAM suppression first. Any 5in support from the fleet?

    1. The Marines had no artillery aside from their integrated mortars. The Soviets had 3 122mm batteries. Battery 1 did not even answer the radio until turn 9! I toyed with the idea of naval guns but in the interest of keeping things "small" on the tabletop, I dispensed with them. If I'd given much worthwhile artillery to the Marines, I would have had to bump up some component of the Soviet force, escalating the game.