Fire on the Kinzigsee strategy

Fire on the Kinzigsee strategy

Starting next week we will begin posting Zac’s AAR of the Fire on the Kinzigsee scenario for World at War 85. As an introduction to the scenario here are his thoughts on the various issues that each side will face and his initial thoughts on the impact of helicopters (which make their first WaW85 appearance) on the game.

The map and setup areas

I am in the process of playing the Waw85 scenarios in order so as to soak up as much as possible from what the system has to offer before I launch into some of the larger scenarios. Fire on the Kinzigsee has a small US mixed force of vehicles and infantry attempting to hold off a much larger Soviet force until a reinforcing company of M1s can come put a halt to the Soviet plans to advance.

The Americans have to set up anywhere in the north half of the map (hexrow K and up) and the Soviets will move onto the map from the south edge (in red). On turn 2, the US gets a formation of M1 tanks that come on anywhere from the north (in blue). To win, the Soviets have to exit six ground units (HQs don’t count) off of the north map edge. Reduced units will count. As part of easing the player into the game system, this scenario adds helicopters to the US and Soviet forces and these may cause you to rethink your game-plan as they play quite differently than ground units.

The US situation

The scenario will ‘live or die’ based on how well the US forces are deployed. They start with only six ground units and two Cobra helicopters and they need to try to stop 20 Soviet vehicle platoons, three infantry platoons and a Hind E. To make matters a bit more complicated for the US, until turn 2 the Soviets will have five activation cards to the US 4 and even when they are reinforced they will only slightly edge the Soviets with six cards to five. So the US can’t depend on being able to dodge and weave to avoid the mass of Soviets as they have in previous scenarios.

Once the M1s arrive in turn 2, the US will still only have nine ground units. They are M1s but it is still a meagre number of tanks to try to stop a wave of Soviets. Neither side has any artillery or Smoke resources so the US will have to slow down and destroy the Soviets with ATGMs and tank rounds. The Americans also don’t know where the Soviets are going to come onto the map and you can assume that they will scatter like cats let out of a bag once the game starts to avoid traffic snarls and presenting too many targets to the Americans. 

Have I mentioned that I like how the Soviets have to manage traffic in this game?

The hills are alive…

The hills in the centre of the map provide a good location for the US forces to deploy. How long they stay there is up to the Soviets but from these two hills the Americans have good lines of sight across most of the southern areas of the map. In an ideal world you could put troops on the hill at the far left of the map at 1N1 but the US forces only have a single HQ at start and so these two middle hills (shown above) will let you spread and still stay in command. Being elevated also gives your troops a defensive bonus against Soviet fire from ground level. 

Trouble to the east

The woods at the eastern edge of the map can possibly be a problem. The Soviets can scoot into or beside the woods and get defensive bonuses as well as hide in the blind hexes in J12-M12. If they do take this route then the M1s coming on turn 2 can be used to stop them but this then means that your deployment is very heavy on the eastern side of the board and almost a refused flank. 

The Americans need to be aggressive in their deployment and go as far forward as they can in order to maximize the amount of fire they can send towards the Soviet vehicles. Sitting back means that the Soviets just get closer to their objective before you start to engage them and there are more of them and they can activate almost as well as the US can so the further south you engage them the more trouble the Soviets will have getting off the board.

The Soviet situation

The Soviets have a slightly easier time of it that the Americans and get to see the US deployment before even putting a counter on the map. The Soviets have three ground formations. One substantial formation of 10 T80s and two smaller mixed formations with BMPs, BTRs and lower-grade tanks such as the T62 and T55. 

Neither of the mixed formations have the numbers to individually win the game nor can they stand up to even a small unit of M1s. The Soviets best bet for a win is, I think, to drive the T80s towards the north of the map and then use the other two formations to engage the US forces that start on the map. The T80s should be able to cope with the M1s and if the other formations can keep the initial US forces at bay it means a 3:1 advantage in tanks for the Soviets.


The one certainty in regards to the Soviet strategy is that the centre of the board (shown above) is not a place any Soviet vehicle or unit wants to find itself. The Soviet player is going to want to engage the US forces but that has to be done from cover. Getting into the centre of the map, even to try to bait the US forces into moving to engage you is clearly a Bad Idea ™.

New toys

The helicopters are an added complication. Especially if you are new to them as I am. So new in fact that I have out the original version of this section and rewrote it based on my reread of the rules and some feedback from David Medeiros. 

The first thing to remember about helicopters is that they have varying armour and attacks based on their flight mode. Here is the Hind E:

The MI-24 Hind E 

In order to fire its ATGM it has to enter hover mode. This gives it the 17 4 4 ATGM attack but reduces it from a hard target with a 3 5 armour rating to a soft target. The American Chaparrel’s threat value changes drastically based on what mode the Hind is in. It might be less worried about the 60 2 4 AIM-9 missiles when it is flying but when it stops to take a shot at a tank that flurry of missiles is more worrying. Also, there is almost nowhere to go to avoid being in Point Blank range when being fired on by the Chaparrel so that is effectively a 60 2 3 attack. 

The AH-1 Cobra has similar stats:

AH-1 Cobra

My original thought about using the Hind E to hunt the Cobras is moot since fire from the Hind E is covered by 10.6.1 which means that it can’t use the ATGM and its fire is limited to 4 hexes and only hits on 6s. The same applies to the Cobras as well. So both units are going to be used more traditionally in hunting armour and soft targets. 

The Chaparrel is a problem for the Hinds but it has its own issues.

The Chaparrel

It is a Soft target so it needs to keep itself away from possible Soviet fire. Almost any vehicle on the Soviet side, even the T55s, will pose a threat. As well, it has a long range but the Chapparel has to be positioned carefully. There are quite a few locations on the map where the Hinds can hover behind Woods and villages and still fire at US units but block fire from the Chapparel. If it can be positioned correctly the Chaparrel can ruin the Soviet plans for their Hinds but care does need to be taken to position them where they are protected as well as can get a wide arc of fire.

These are going to be interesting units to add to the game and I suspect that much of my rules reference in this game will revolve around helicopters and how they interact with terrain and units in the game. If you haven’t looked at it, grab a copy of the Helicopters in 5 Minutes document from the Lock ‘n Load forums. It has all of the pertinent rules about helicopters, including rules references, all in one place. 

Rule 10.6.1

If you haven’t used AA units and Helicopters it would be good to check through 10.6.1: Anti-Aircraft Fire to make sure that you are fully informed of the restrictions that are placed on firing at helicopters. Of special interest is the restrictions on non-AA units firing on helicopters.

However, a unit engaging with black or orange FP may only engage these targets at the Effective Range printed on their counter, or 10 hexes, whichever is less; Point Blank and Long Range modifiers do not apply. It suffers a -2 modifier to its FP dice, and its To Hit for AA fire is 6.

World at War 85 rulebook page 61

The to-hit restriction is severe but only if your units have a good to-hit value to start with. A T-80 firing at a Cobra is losing a significant amount of its firepower potential but what about the T-55? It only has a to-hit value of 6. So it effectively has no to-hit penalty when firing at a Cobra. The lowly T-55, which can’t hit an M1 or Bradley if it tries is as effective a gun platform against helicopters as any tank in the game. The US forces have a dedicated AA unit in the Chapparel but the Soviets have a de facto AA unit in the T-55.

Summing up

This is not only a good way to introduce helicopters to players but it also looks like a fun scenario. The American player has to plan on how to best slow down and whittle away at the Soviets while the Soviets have to try to avoid combat unless necessary and focus on moving troops. There is a lot for each player to think about and the potential for some scrambling repositioning and even setting a trap or two.

Thanks to Keith Tracton and Robert Paul Jussaume for their comments on this scenario. 

Zac Belado
Author: Zac Belado

Zac is a wargamer from Edmonton, Alberta Canada. When not trying to figure out a new set of rules or cut the corners on counters he is busy building websites.