Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Luke Writes III

Luke has sent me some notes on his list writing thoughts. As he tends to know what hes talking about, I'm posting them unedited. All views in this post should not be construed as being the views of the blog owner, unless they are also the views held by the blog owner. As you were...

So far we've spent 788.6 points on our force, which has bought us 7 fighting battalions.  Now let's look at rounding out our force with some further Divisional assets.  When fielding WarPac forces, extra artillery assets are always something to consider.  We've already included two regimental battalions of 122 mm howitzers; Czechoslovakians don't have access to 120 mm mortars like other WarPac forces do, so can seem otherwise very short of firepower, because they only have 82 mm mortars, which are really gutless.  On the other hand, 82 mm mortars don't need to be towed, and they can't be targeted by enemy counterbattery fire.
We might consider bringing the Divisional anti-tank guns - but these are a complete waste of points in attack game, needing to be set-up before they can do anything, and being horribly slow because they are towed.  They can be worthwhile in a defence game however, especially if hidden.  Instead, lets consider yet more rockets, taken from the Divisional artilellry regiment, the 361st:

1 x FAO from 361st Artillery Regiment @ 10 x 0.8 = 8
4 x vz. 70 122 mm MRL (off-table)  @ 19 x 0.6 = 45.6

The vz. 70, being armoured, is essentially immune to counterbattery fire, which Czechoslovakians (and other WarPac 2 nations) are otherwise horribly vulnerable to.  Other nations can substitute the cheaper, but much  more vulnerable, BM-21, which is the same rocket launcher mounted on an unarmoured chassis.  Note that you might consider reducing this battalion down to 3 elements, because 4 elements of MRLs firing together is often overkill - you are talking about a beaten zone 16" across!   This brings us to 842.6 points.  We can squeeze a few more points out:

2 x PLDvK vz 53 AA guns with tows from 13th AA Regiment @ 4 x 0.8 = 6.4

These AA elements are essentially worthless as AA units, but make cheap filler that can boost a fighting battalion's effective size.  Moreover, they bring our points total up to 848.6 points - perfect! 

So what we have here is essentially two complete regiments (minus their higher-level AT and AA companies), each of 4 battalions (but each fighting as 3 because their tanks are attached out). The OT-64 battalions advance up the table, while the BVP battalions hang back initially as a reserve force. In addition we have the Divisional recon battalion, which can be kept in being, or attached out, as desired.  With 7 battalions we have plenty of flank-marching options as well.  Assuming you go deep for a deep flank march, you'll need a 6 to arrive, but you aren't investing all that many points in it, so even if it never arrives, you shouldn't lose too much sweat over it. You'll note the there is no independent Tank battalion as you'd see with a typical Soviet force - the Czechoslovakians had abolished theirs by this date.  These independent tank battalions can offer wargaming flexibility to an otherwise mostly-infantry force; especially because they might be equipped with gear different from other tanks in the Division to which they were attached.

We might want to consider some more "A options" at this point: one more will bring us up to four, which should be sufficient for most purposes.  Our last A option could be to add in the Divisional howitzers, for example, plus an ATGW battery from the Divisional AT regiment: 

1 x FAO from 361st Artillery Regiment @ 10 x 0.8 = 8
4 x 152 mm H vz. 18/47 with tows (off-table)  @ 9? x 0.6 = 21.6
2 x 9P133 @ 18 x 0.8 = 28.8

This lot also comes to 58.4 points.  These 152 mm divisional-level howitzers used by the Czechoslovakians were really ancient pieces, lacking the range of the 1930s vintage ML-20 and were post-war rebuilds of the late 1920s German 150 mm guns!   I could have chosen the cheaper (because Green) but otherwise identical AT company from the 5th regiment, but doing it this way allows it to be attached to any battalion, and not just one from the 5th regiment. 

Now if I was going to run a B option, what might it be?  We've started to run out of both divisional and regimental options (!), so we could start with a battalion drawn from yet another of the Division's regiments: the 33rd Tank regiment.  We'll take the battalion that has some T-72s in it, to throw some spice into the mix; this little unit comes to 118.8 points - almost right on the money:

1 x HQ T-55A @ 19 x 0.8 = 15.2
2 x T-55A @ 19 x 0.8 = 30.4
4 x T-72 @ 23 x 0.8 = 73.6

It would be a prime candidate for reinforcement with those cheap divisional AA guns. 

Another option might be to add in the Divisional HQ and various assets.  By doing this as a points option, we will not have to reduce the size of our fighting battalions to field it.  Running a DHQ can be risky, because losing it means you can't issue any more orders at all, and, depending on the circumstances of its loss, give them further VPs as well.  On the other hand, DHQs have a unique ability - they are not attached to a fighting battalion like an RHQ is; rather, companies can be attached to them, so they are like a battalion HQ - except you don't issue orders to them.  A DHQ doesn't have to worry about command arrows etc., like all other command elements do - it is representing the formation's CinC after all, so needs no orders being sent out or received to activate it.  This can make it the centre of a uniquely flexible reserve, as it moves when and where you want it to.  So let's have a look at what the bare DHQ looks like:
1 x HQ stand in OT-64 @ 7 x 0.8 = 5.6
1 x Security (Infantry Combat) Team in OT-64 @ 7 x 0.8 = 5.6
1 x Motorcycle Infantry @ 6 x 0.8 = 4.8
2 x BRDM-2rch NBC recon @ 3 x 0.8 = 4.8
This only comes to 20.8 points - so we could field it as part of an A option if we want.  Let's add the 5th regiment's ATGW company (so we can use the already purchased divisional ATGW to accompany the DHQ):

2 x 9P133 @ 18 x 0.6 = 21.6
Still only 41.6 points.  We can't run an A option and a B option together, so we could add some Divisional Engineering assets here as in our first A option:

1 x Recon OT-65 @ 3 x 0.8 = 2.4
2 x Light Engineer teams in OT-64s @ 6 x 0.8 = 9.6

That's 53.6 points so far.  If we do run a DHQ, it is likely to attract enemy aircraft, if present, so better have some more AA assets present:

1 x 2K11M KRUG (off-table) @ 32 x 0.6 = 19.2
1 x PLDvK vz. 53/59 @ 14 x 0.8 = 11.2
Which leaves us enough points for some counterbattery guns:

4 x M-46 130 mm guns with tows (off-table) @ 13 x 0.6 = 33.6
Which gives us a total of 117.4 points for this rather unusual B option.  Exactly what companies may be attached to a DHQ is a bit unclear under the rules.  Divisional-level ones obviously.  But can companies be stripped from a battalion and assigned to the DHQ?  I would hazard not - because that sounds too much like cross-attaching, which isn't allowed.  Can you buy, under Keith's system, companies from an otherwise not-represented fighting battalion, and pre-assign them to a DHQ?  That sounds much more reasonable.  Perhaps a company of T-55 tanks from the 33rd Tank battalion: 45.6 points' worth.

Even without taking any options, this is quite a powerful force.  Its strength of course, is its enormous size.  Any situation in which it can trade elements one-for-one is thus a winning situation: close assaults are often such a situation.  Thus suppressing enemy elements in preparation for such a close assault is often better than attempting to kill them outright; smoke can usefully be employed to screen your elements, or often even better, the enemy's; those 82 mm mortars can actually occasionally do something valuable here.  Its large number of battalions means it can contest all available objectives simultaneously, making for difficult deployment decisions for opposing defenders.  And when facing this outfit, you must always be on the lookout against a flank march...

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