Team Tversky Goes to Cancon

 Team Tversky Goes to Cancon

Team Tversky Goes to Cancon
with Scott Elaurant
The Australia Day long weekend holiday in Australia sees Cancon – Australia’s largest gaming convention – held in Canberra. For several years now there has been a WWIII: Team Yankee event, featuring 7 or 8 games over three days, with forces of 85 points each.This year I decided to take an Israeli Merkava II Company to Cancon. Cancon would be my first WWIII competition using Version 2 of the rules.

 I kept the Merkava force small (7 tanks) and added another US Marine Corps M60 company (7 tanks) and Redeye SAMs in support. I tried this combination as it included a lot of Nato (4+ to hit) tanks. They also had good morale and moving rate of fire two. It was a pretty extreme force, with no infantry, air support, or artillery support and minimal anti-aircraft defence. Some of these decisions would prove clever. Others not so much.

Day One Game One: No Retreat vs British Mechanised
My first game was versus William who was running a British Mechanised Infantry with Chieftain, artillery and Harrier support.  We drew the No Retreat scenario and William defended on a semi-urban battlefield.  

I deliberately put my objective on some open ground on the left side (bottom of screen).  William deployed his minefields and infantry on board with Chieftains and Harriers off.

I concentrated on the left objective.  The M60s moved up behind some oil tanks that gave cover to the swarm of Milan teams William fielded.  The Merkavas advanced in the centre, trying to whittle down the Milan teams in the tall buildings opposite.

The combined Merkava and M60 fire pinned the British mechanised platoon on the left and it did not unpin. The M60s charged, pushing the British infantry back from the objective.  

William’s reserves arrived quickly, first Chieftains then Harriers.  He pushed his two platoons of Scorpions in front of the infantry to buy time for the Chieftains to arrive.  I pushed the Merkavas over to help the M60s, who had started to take losses from the Milans.

Team Tversky Goes to Cancon

Team Tversky Goes to Cancon

But it was not to be. Since I started my turn already contesting the objective, I only had to make sure no enemy were within 4 inches at the end of my turn to win. The Merkavas shot down the Scorpions and the M60s assaulted the remnants of the British Infantry. British LAWs bailed two M60 platoon assault, but the second M60 platoon finished the job. Hoo-yeah! 8-1 to Team Tversky.

Day One Game Two: Encounter vs German Leopard IIs
At lunch I made a vital reconnaissance and logistics mission to all the trader stalls at the convention, picking up an eclectic mix of stuff.

In Game Two I played our Battlefront guest Andrew Haight, who had flown in all the way to Canberra.  Andrew was running a West German Leopard II force. It was small but high quality, with seven Leopard IIs, Luchs Recce and Gepard AA. We both tried to attack and wound up with an Encounter Mission.  The terrain was desert with lots of hills.

Team Tversky Goes to Cancon

Team Tversky Goes to Cancon

I put units of Merkavas, USMC M60s and AA in reserve and deployed a platoon of tanks, their HQ and some recce near the objective on each flank. I kept my tanks out of sight. The Merkavas were on my left. Andrew did likewise with two units of two Leopard IIs.

We both played pretty cautiously at the start, not knowing where our reserves would arrive. As it turned out both my Merkava and USMC M60s reserve units arrived on my right side, while Andrew’s extra Leopard IIs and HQ arrived at his rear. He moved one of his Leopard II platoons to the right to counter my arrivals, leaving his Leopard II HQ tank to hold the left.

I pushed some of my USMC M60s and all my arriving Merkavas forward on the right, occupying some scrub as cover. In the swirling fight on the right I only had marginal success duking it out with the Leopard IIs. However in moving forward I did wind up behind the flank of the Leopard II unit Andrew was moving over to reinforce the right flank. I nailed them, and that left only the isolated Leopard II HQ defending the left flank.

On the left my Merkavas moved up for the kill, trying to use cover where possible. Andrew raced forward and nailed one of my Merkavas. However the other two Merkavas killed Andrew’s HQ Leopard to break his company and seal the game. Another 8-1 victory!

Day Two Game Three: Killing Ground vs Dutch armour and Mech Infantry
My day job is as a transport planner and so I took the chance to catch Canberra’s new Light Rail from my hotel to the EPIC centre where Cancon was being held. It was frequent, fast and comfortable and had excellent signal priority, getting a green light through every intersection. Why Sydney could not do similarly after spending four times as much money to build a light rail system of identical track length I do not understand.

So on to the gaming. Day one had been surprisingly smooth, but things were about to get tougher. I faced Leigh who was running a Dutch army based on a Leopard II panzer company with mechanised infantry in those neat YPR765 AFVs. There was an attached British Airmobile company with just enough infantry to add lots of Milan teams. Starting to detect a theme here…. We rolled for the Killing Ground mission on a mixed rural battlefield.

Team Tversky Goes to Cancon

I was the attacker and I figured that over time Leigh’s Milan tams and arriving Leopard IIs would attrition me to death. So once again I had to attack quickly to win. I put the entire USMC M60 company hull down on a central ridge with a good fire position. The entire Merkava company advanced on my left flank to try to take the objective defended by the Dutch mechanised infantry platoon. Their Leopard II HQ was nearby and there was a British Airlanding platoon in ambush, but it still looked the easiest.

Leigh’s HQ Leopard II moved right to flank my tanks. I advanced a USMC M60 platoon to flank and kill this pest, but they all missed! To make matters worse, Leigh’s reserve Leopard II platoon then showed up on the right flank. However in a battle between two groups of remarkably near-sighted tankers, the Dutch only bailed the M60s. Next turn the plucky Marines remounted, moved and killed off the HQ Leopard. The reserve Leopard platoon then promptly killed the M60s.

While my USMC M60s paid the price holding up the Leopard IIs, this then left the way clear for my Merkava company to advance on Leigh’s defending left flank infantry. They finished off the Dutch artillery while they advanced, then started whittling down the Dutch Carl Gustav and ATGW teams from close range.  Leigh got some reserve Geppards who tried to delay the assault. He also put down his ambushing Airlanding platoon but they had two problems. They could not deploy too close to my tanks, and their Milans were not a threat in an assault because of their eight-inch minimum range. Once the Gepards were destroyed the Merkavas went in. The plucky Dutch Carl Gustav team killed a Merkava, but the second platoon finished the job.  6-3 to Team Tversky.  

I found the Dutch combination of Leopard IIs and infantry with good AT weapons tough to counter. If Leigh’s reserve Leopard II platoon had not had to enter from the right table edge, furthest from my advance, this could have turned out very ugly.

So on to the gaming. Day one had been surprisingly smooth, but things were about to get tougher. I faced Leigh who was running a Dutch army based on a Leopard II panzer company with mechanised infantry in those neat YPR765 AFVs. There was an attached British Airmobile company with just enough infantry to add lots of Milan teams. Starting to detect a theme here…. We rolled for the Killing Ground mission on a mixed rural battlefield.

Day Two Game Four: Counterattack vs Soviet Motor Rifle Horde
After three wins I was feeling pretty chuffed. What could possibly go wrong? Now I got to fight Comrade Nick Ashbyjenko and his massive Soviet infantry horde. His force featured four battalions (eight platoons!) of Soviet infantry, two of them in BMP2s, with supporting ATGW. No artillery, helicopters or aircraft. Just lots of Soviet infantry holding RPGs, and a lot of ATGW. We rolled for Counterattack on an urban table with a town and some forests.

I thought I had a good plan for this one, even against the vast horde. I was the attacker. I put the second objective in an area of open ground and used two recce spearheads to deploy my entire tank force in that quadrant of the table. By turn two I had a line of Merkavas staking out the objective and the USMC M60s in forests protecting my flanks. I killed off the Soviet Storm and Spandrel units as first priority.

Then things started going wrong. The Soviet Spigot teams simply would not die, even against brutal shots from the Merkavas. Meanwhile their own shots rarely missed against the USMC M60s. The Soviet reserve BMP2 infantry companies showed up very quickly, and polished off the USMC company. 

 Team Tversky Goes to Cancon

I still thought I might hold out with the Merkavas. A lot of BMP2s were destroyed, but the survivors hid behind the woods refusing to give up points. Then a single advancing RPG got behind the Merkava holding the end of the line and it all began to unravel. Team Tversky went down 3 -6 to Comrade Nick’s vast Motor Rifle horde.

Day Two Game Five: Counterattack vs Soviet and East German Tanks Horde
My last game for day two would be against another horde army – Django Upton’s Soviet T62 tank company with bargain East German T55 tank company in support. All up 28 tanks plus assorted motor rifles, artillery, and ATGWs in support! This time I was Defender on a rural table with a very constricted right side with a large wood between hills. I put the M60s defending on the right and Merkavas on the left, with more in reserve.

Django attacked with the T62s advancing cautiously on the right, and his T55 company racing for the left centre objective. My first two turns of shooting were disastrous, and I could not seem to hit Django’s T62s as they crested the hill. His return fire against the M60s was deadly, and they steadily lost tanks. I moved the Merkava platoon right to reinforce, and hoped that the reserves arriving would help knock out the T55s.

But once again it was not to be. With the Merkavas arriving on the right I started knocking out T62s, but the USMC company was soon destroyed. The Merkava platoon would be heavily outnumbered. Meanwhile the T55s on the left died to HQ and reserve Merkava fire, but far too slowly. When the M60 company was broken the reserve M60 platoon fled  Suddenly the left flank T55s saw an opening. Despite ROF1 and no stabilisers, the Ossie T55s could not miss the flanks of my Merkavas! Team Tversky broke and lost 3-6 again!

Day Three Game Six: Free For All vs Soviet and East German Tanks Horde
After the highs, lows and lower lows of Day Two, Day Three dawned with Team Tversky not hoping for much. No, taking two small tank companies, one of which can easily be broken, is not a good idea.

Game six saw me drawn against Ian, an old friend from Queensland running a composite Czech T72 force supported by Soviet BMP2 infantry. The dice gods were much kinder in terms of mission and we played Free For All on a rural table with lots of fields.

Team Tversky Goes to Cancon

Team Tversky Goes to Cancon

This time the USMC M60s were on the ball. From their hilltop position they could shoot down on the oncoming Czech T72s, which gained no concealment from the (short terrain) fields. The Czech T72 threat was soon stopped in its tracks. I deployed with my USMC M60s in a hill crest position on my left and the Merkavas in a field on my right. Ian, with the advantage of far more units, sensibly concentrated his T72 tank formation against the USMC on my left after seeing where I put the Merkavas down.

As I learnt the hard way on Day Two, good tactics are no match for good dice. Ian advanced on my left with his T72s using stabilisers but could not hit my hilltop holdout M60s. By contrast their return fire against the T72s was far deadlier than they had been able to achieve against the lighter armoured T62s the day before! Go figure? Ian’s tank force was crushed in three turns, plus the supporting BMP2s for good measure.

On the right flank life for the Merkavas was tougher, since the large wheat fields afforded cover for the Soviet BMP2s and infantry. At first it was a bit of a stalemate. Then the Merkavas came forward to the edge of the fields which gave them unconcealed shots on the BMPs, knocking out half a dozen in a turn. At that stage the Czechs were just about out of any units that could actually hurt my tanks. Ian snuck some recce and AA forward to kill my recce and score some points. We called it 7-2 to Team Tversky when it was clear I could advance and kill Ian’s HQ and break his force. Ian had no luck whatsoever in this game.

Day Three, Game Seven
For the final game the draw was somewhat messed up because two players had had to finish early and so there was an uneven number of players. I wound up playing Comrade Nick’s Motor Rifle horde in another game of Free For All, this time on a rural table. This was something of a tiebreaker, since to my pleasant surprise Nick and I were coming first and second on the points table. Would the Soviet human wave carry the day again?

At the start we both deployed large forces on each flank. I had my Merkavas on my left flank and my USMC M60 company on my right flank. Nick had his BTR infantry on my left and his BMP2 infantry on my right. In the more open terrain Nick had little chance of getting his left infantry to my Merkavas lining a hillcrest and so the left became a stalemate. I gradually started working a platoon of Merkava tanks from my left to reinforce my right. On the way they knocked out some ATGW in the Soviet centre. The main fighting would be on the right.

Team Tversky Goes to Cancon

Team Tversky Goes to Cancon

On the right there was a large forest between two lakes.  This gave Nick good cover to advance his infantry, but also slowed his advance due to the lack of space between the lakes.  The M60s gave a good account of themselves taking out a few of the BMPs and halting the infantry in the woods with massed MG fire. This gave the Merkavas time to arrive and shore up the defences.

The Soviet infantry Spigot unit destroyed a few M60s and eventually this led to the loss of an M60 platoon. However the Merkavas proved unshiftable and started to destroy the infantry RPG teams. They had previously been invulnerable to M60 MG fire, passing save after save. With time running out both sides started retiring damaged units out to sight so as not to give up victory points. It was clear that neither side would be able to claim an objective. The Merkavas pushed one tank forward on the far right to finish off the BMPs. At the end of a brutal slugfest it finished a 2-2 draw between Team Tversky and Nick’s Soviets.

And the Winner is…
As always competitions are great ways to have fun, meet prospective opponents and better learn the rules plus a few good tactics. Cancon was hard fought but fair and friendly. I must thank all my opponents for hard fought but fair games. There were questions over some elements of the new WWIII: Team Yankee rules, but no arguments at all.

The Final Results Were:

1. Nick Ashby, Soviet Motor Rifle
2. Scott Elaurant, Israeli Merkava II Company
3. Django Upton, Soviet Tank Battalion

Nick Ashby, Best Sports
William Warnes-Jones, British Mechanised, Best Painted 

Thanks to all players and Andy and Andrew for organising a fun event.

Lessons for Team Tversky

V2 morale rules make unbailing tanks critical. Merkavas are great at this.
2. Splitting into two small companies is a bad idea.
3. The USMC M60s have good hitting power but were too vulnerable in units of 3.  
4. Take full strength units whenever possible.
5. In a tournament, morale and numbers are more important than skill and weapons.

Last Updated On Thursday, February 27, 2020 by Luke at Battlefront