I played a game of Wargame: Airland Battle this week.
I fielded my custom-made British armour deck, while the computer AI controlled a Soviet Marine (quality infantry) battlegroup. The game of course is based on a hypothetical Cold War gone hot scenario.
The battlefield consisted of a large urban area surrounded by low hills. The countryside was relatively open, with patches of dense forestation here and there.
Considering I was playing a tank-heavy force against a quality infantry-dominant force, my plan was actually quite poor. To be honest, I completely forgot who I was fighting!
Infantry are very powerful in urban areas, and this large urban area (the map is called “Hamar”, so let’s call it the township of Hamar) sat in the centre of the battlefield, so I thought I’d spam the town with infantry and use my heavy tanks to guard the flanks.
I sent three Lynx helicopters ahead of my main force to contest Hamar and hopefully keep it clear of enemy forces until my infantry could arrive. Unfortunately the dastardly commies had positioned plenty of anti-air in their vanguard, and I quickly lost all three ‘copters.
However, I did manage to rush my infantry into the town before the Soviets secured the place. Unfortunately however, in my haste I still had each platoon deployed separately, which hampered their ability to defend the town (you can only have one unit per urban area, but you can merge up to four units into a single larger unit, maximising your defensive power).
Regardless, my infantry withstood the first two waves of Soviet infantry, partly due to the surprisingly deadly concentrated fire of my armed transports (they seem to be the Cold War equivalent of Britain’s WW2 Bren carriers). The Russians even sent in engineers with a flame-thrower vehicle spouting napalm, but my infantry held on.
Meanwhile, we both started feeding tanks into long-range duels on the flanks of Hamar, which I initially won through sheer dint of numbers.
But in the time it took me to win the first tank engagement, my infantry had caved under the weight of consistent Russian street-to-street fighting. Hamar secured, the Russians then turned against my tanks in the east, and through artillery bombardment, airstrikes and infantry charges, managed to make considerable progress before I stabilised the front with yet more reinforcements.
By this stage (about fifteen minutes in) I had lost Hamar but had blunted Russian offensives launched from this point. However, my defensive parameter was almost non-existent and I was desperately trying to plug the gaps with reinforcements. My left was in fact entirely deserted.
Therefore, the Russians pulled back to gather the forces to punch through in the west. This repositioning took vital time I gladly used to deploy more reinforcements.
By the time this final Russian assault was prepared I was ready with my own counter-attack. The Communists launched a two-pronged attack, one south towards my rear, and one eastwards into Hamar. I blunted the southwards assault with a few tanks and recon units and heavy aerial bombardment, while my own eastern wing, made almost entirely of tanks, held off disjointed Russian forces as they threaded their way through the battered town of Hamar. Since the Russian assault against this point was so disorganised, I was able to send many of these tanks north and to start cutting through disjointed Russian defences there- I presume these defences were weakened as troops were deployed towards the Russian offensive in the west.
This aerial and armoured defence against the west and an armoured drive northwards was enough to push the Russians past my victory conditions (kill 3,000 points of the enemy).
However, I had lost 2,200 points myself, including almost all my infantry, so it was only a minor victory.
In analysis, I made the mistake of using an armoured battlegroup to hold an urban area against elite infantry. I should have let the Russians take Hamar, and then coax them out of the position where my tanks could chew up their armoured transports in long-range duels.
Instead, I got embroiled in a bitter infantry firefight against a superior infantry force, and then allowed my tanks to draw too close to the city, which destroyed my eastern wing.
Fortunately, the Russians took a long time to take advantage of their local superiority (although we were about even in casualties) and I was able to blunt their assaults while driving against their weak defences elsewhere, giving me the victory.
Early Russian aerial assaults probably helped me as well, because I had good air defences which whittled away their aircraft, leaving me with aerial superiority in the final stages of the battle.
A quite enjoyable game, and I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to pick Wargame: Airland Battle up again since I hadn’t played it for a few weeks and was still adjusting to the game’s steep learning curve.