Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm has grabbed me in a way few other games have for quite awhile. The time period covered by the game (and forward) has long been my favorite to play, but there haven't been many games of this scale depicting the a NATO-Warsaw Pact war for a long time. Combine that with a great game system and you have the recipe for a game I haven't stopped playing since I downloaded it.
After playing some stand-alone scenarios, I've decided to give the NATO campaign a try. Here's the setup and first couple of turns of the first scenario in the campaign, called "Hunting Bears."
In this scenario I'll be commanding the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Armored Division (Hell on Wheels), on the North German Plain. It is 0400 the morning of July 22, 1989. Two days ago the Soviets crossed the Inter-German Boundary at the West German town of Bad Neustadt after months of diplomatic maneuvering designed to convince the world that they were pulling their forces out of Germany and promoting re-unification. The attack through the Fulda Gap is a diversion, however. The Soviet main effort will be here, on the North German Plain.
My brigade on this foggy morning is in the vicinity of the West German town of Bucholz in der Nordheide. The 3-41 Mechanized Infantry is online and in defensive positions. Of the 4-41 Mech Infantry, Companies C and D are available, with the rest of the battalion expected later. I also have two cavalry scout squadrons, and the 552nd Military Intelligence Company is in place, watching the border.
In the south of my AO, I've placed B Company 3-41 to defend Holm-Seppensen and overwatch the southern-most stream crossing on the map. C Company is place three or four kilometers to the rear as a reserve where it can defend the battalion HQ and shift south to support B Company or north to support A company. I've also located a scout platoon in the area. I'm hoping to be able to dash out and blow the bridge. That will significantly delay any Soviet force trying to cross the stream, and force them to conduct engineering activities under the guns of B Company.
I've place A Company in the center behind a stream. 2nd and 3rd Platoons have orders to blow the bridges in front of them immediately, leaving only the bridge in front of 1st Platoon intact for the forward deployed scouts to use when they retreat. About three kilometers east of the stream is a belt of mines and obstacles. I've positioned cavalry scouts to overwatch the minefields and hopefully blow some bridges, slowing the attack. As soon as I see a significant force of attackers, I plan to pull these scouts back and across the stream at the remaining bridge.
Recon is absolutely essential in this game. Its rare to find a game that treats recon this well, and makes it so central to success.
To my rear I've positioned D Team of the 4-41 Infantry in the village of Wenzendorf. This armor-heavy team is tasked to move to the northeast and take up defensive positions at a crossroads objective to the west of some heavy forest.
Finally, in the north, C Company 4-41 Infantry is in the village of Eversen-Heide. They'll move east to defend another crossroads objective. More scouts are located on the east side of the forested ridge overwatching the border minefields.
The balloon goes up at 0400 and Soviet units are seen moving through the border.
In the northern sector, the scouts have yet to observe much movement, though a Pact recon unit tried the mine belt and was destroyed. A Kiowa scout helicopter has moved closer to the mine belt in the hopes of getting eyes on any advancing Soviet column. C and D Companies of the 4-41 Infantry are moving into their defensive positions. It is dawn, with haze/fog. Visibility is 1500m.
In the center, bridges are blown and recon unit try and cross the border. Between mines and the TOW missile and cannon of the cavalry M-3's, nothing makes it across the stream. A cavalry troop manages to blow one of the forward bridges, but pulls back after sighting what looks like a Soviet Tank company and recon troops. Red and blue crosses on the map denote WP and NATO losses, respectively. Towards the extreme southeastern corner of the map in the screenshot above you can see a number of wrecked Soviet AFVs taken out by the cavalry.
Things have not gone as well in the south around Holm-Seppensen. The Soviets started the first turn right on the stream, and I had no time to blow the bridge. Recce and armor poured across, supported by significant artillery. 1st and 2nd Platoons of B Company 3-41 gave a good account of themselves as can be seen by the cluster of wrecked red AFVs to the east of the bridge. The two platoons are quickly taken under fire by the advancing tanks and pummeled by artillery, leaving them collectively reduced to a couple of squads.
I've ordered the remnants of the two broken platoons and the company HQ to retreat to the ridge line to the west, under the cover of fire from 3rd Platoon and a cavalry troop. As quickly as I can, I'll move all of B Company across the stream to the west and on to the high ground overlooking the bridge objective to reorganize and resupply. It looks like C Company will be coming out of reserve sooner than I expected.
Here's my orders for the center sector. I'm pushing scouts forward to find out where the enemy is, while moving A Company south to cover the vulnerable space between the river and the woods now that Pact forces are across the stream to the south, and behind the blown bridges.
That's the first 31 minutes of a ten hour scenario! Going into the next turn, the American command cycle is 27 minutes, compared to the Soviet command cycle of an (estimated) 32 minutes. This means that I'll be able to give orders again after 27 minutes more have elapsed, but the Soviet commander can't issue orders again for 32 minutes. As the game plays out, we'll check back to see what happens to these order cycles.