Lock & Load 2023

Lock & Load 2023, South Australia 28 October 2023 – WWIII Team Yankee Tournament Report
With Saravan Peacock

Ten players came together from across South Australia for fun and combat last Saturday, as Group North Historical Wargames Society ran our second annual WWIII: Team Yankee tournament.
The event was generously supported by local game store Military Hobbies as well as fantastic support from Battlefront and Aetherworks, with models, terrain and prize vouchers, giving us all some reward and inspiration for that next big army!

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With two new NATO books out we saw a few players testing out new forces or just trying out some of the new kit with existing forces, so we had Leclercs, Aussie M1A1s and ASLAVs, Swedish S-tanks, Centurions and Bandkanons, and a handful of Milan 2s for the first time in our competitive scene. But there were plenty of the well tested forces too, with two each of US and British armies, Iraqis, Soviet/Iranian, and a West German infantry force.

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We were playing at 115pts, with limits on spam, following the World Series format this year. Locally, we normally play 3 rounds of 2hr 20mins each over a single day at 75-85 points. In testing the new format we found it very hard to finish games at this higher point level, so we extended rounds to 2hrs 45mins which helped reach a result for a lot of games.

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My force – US Bradley Mech Combat Team and HMMWV Cavalry Troop

Round 1
My first game was a matchup with Ken, another club player running British Chieftains and medium recce with a fair bit of air support. This was a fun list that Ken wasn’t planning to compete hard with but still provided some thorny problems for opponents. We were playing on a Nordic-themed board with lots of open woods, meaning in theory the British could shoot my Abrams with AT24 Milan 2s and AT 23 missiles at short range through the woods, or from ambush in the flanks. I didn’t fancy that and did my best with smoke and movement to reduce the chances of taking that fire.

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Playing Covering Force, with the centre blocked by minefields, I attacked hard on the left objective and skirmished with my M2A2 Bradleys on the right, where the British Scorpions had little chance of hurting me. The British got the best of the initial exchange as I closed the gap, but then I finished off the defenders on the left while laying smoke to protect me from the Chieftains and ambushing missile troops.

When the Harriers arrived on Turn 2 and 3 they had a very tasty target of 4 Abrams and 7 Bradleys under their nasty pie plate of AT8 doom. I was lucky to whittle down two harriers with SAMs, one each turn, but I lost four Bradleys and two Abrams and risked my attack stalling. Fortunately, my commander and 2 Abrams survived and I was able to assault the objective under cover of smoke and pushed the defending infantry off for a 6-3 win.

Round 2
This time I matched Greg, who was leading on points, with a very similar Chieftain and medium recce force. However, Greg was packing Stillbrew Chieftains, and had a formation of infantry as well, instead of the air units and AT missiles.

I was attacking in Contact, on a west European board with a town in one half and a hill with a manor house on the other.

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I moved up to grab key ground in Turn 1, and my early shooting went well, with good dice helping to knock out his artillery with counter-battery fire and destroying a lot of scorpions and scimitars. In return, his Marksmen vaporised my VADS.

We traded shots while I waited for my Abrams to arrive and help push on the left objective. The shooting favoured me - although I lost a platoon of Bradleys to Chieftains sniping, I managed to knock out the recce formation and whittled down the infantry with artillery.
My reserves eventually arrived and with limited time left the Abrams and Bradleys screamed into the fray, risking Chieftain fire on the way. They almost got into contact and, with the chieftains succumbing to TOWs I feel confident I could have taken the objective, but time ran out. 3-2 draw.

Round 3
Facing a strong player on equal points, this was a very tough one. I’d played Gary’s Swedes/Finns and US RDF/LTs in a warm-up game and it was very close so I knew I was in for a fight.

We rolled Scouts Out on a desert board, with me as the attacker. I lumped most of my force of HMMWVs and Bradleys behind a hill on the right to try for a quick objective snatch but my plan came unstuck immediately when his spotter brought down savage auto loader artillery on my massed light vehicles and almost stopped me cold before I’d even started. When I couldn’t hit a barn door in return, his RDF/LTs and missile jeeps pasted my Bradleys and his infantry and APCs advanced on my left I thought it was going to be over quickly.

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I figured it was worth a Hail Mary shot, so my last two infantry teams on the right (most having failed saves to jump out of their burning transports) rallied, made their last stand and joined up with my CO to rush a full-strength defending platoon in a building guarding the right objective. These guys were heroes, losing one to defensive fire, but the CO and one team fought on, killing two and pushing the defenders back. I was on the objective! Could I survive for long enough?

The dice had turned the other way now, and the Swedes struggled with morale checks - the infantry rallied and assaulted to retake the position, but were driven off again after destroying my last infantry stand and leaving my CO still contesting. A Centurion platoon rolled on from reserve, but they were still too far away. With nothing to lose at this point, I fired everything at the last few stands of Swedish infantry and got ready for another assault… in the end, the shooting was enough and I squeaked out a lucky win against the flow of play. 6-3 to me.
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After three games I ended up on even points with Cameron, and we shared first-place honours, my best tournament result!

Take aways
Being a tournament organiser and playing is really hard work! I was running around like a blue-a*sed fly all day and exhausted by the end. The lack of photos is a testament to how little spare time I had. But it was still a huge amount of fun and always satisfying bringing everyone together for a big day of games.

I’m a bit of a slow player - being generous, I’d call it ‘deliberate’… so I focused on playing faster, and not fussing too much to get each of my HMMWVs in the exact right spot. It certainly helped finish some games.

115pt forces do have a bit of resilience and if your game goes bad for a couple of turns you can sometimes turn it back around. In game 3, I was just about ready to throw in the towel at one point, but hanging on long enough, and the dice turning around gave me a chance to recover and get a lucky win.

Overall results
It was a tightly contested event with five players almost tied on points going into the last round. In the end we had two players tied in first place and several snapping at the heels.

Cameron 15 pts Iraqi T-72M Tank Company (*tied Best General)
Saravan 15 pts US Bradley Mech Combat Team and HMMWV Cavalry Troop (*tied Best General)
Scott 14 Australian Leopard AS1 Armoured Squadron and M113 Mechanised Company
Gary 12 Swedish PBV302 Armoured Rifle Company with Allied US Combine Arms (Heavy) Tank Company
Jack 12 US Bradley Mech Combat Team and Combined Arms (Heavy) Company
Greg 9 British Chieftains, Medium Recce and Mech Infantry (* Best Painted Army)
Jim 9 Soviet T-64 Battalion with Iranian Chieftain Company
Dom 6 French AMX-30 Escadron and AMX-10P Compagnie (* Best Sport)
Tyler 6 West German Fallschirmjager Kompanie and Panzergrenadier Kompanie
Ken 3 British Chieftain Squadron and Medium Recce Squadron

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Best general: Cameron and Saravan  Best Sport: Dom
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