Today Lee takes a look at the new WW3: Team Yankee book, “Red Dawn: The Invasion of America.”
The WW3 Team Yankee setting has a lot of potential breadth to it; from tank battles on the Great European Plain, amphibious assaults on Iceland, to airborne assaults to capture the Iranian oil fields. As it stands, the game has ticked off the main big hitters (tank battles in Europe) and started to touch upon the fringes of the global conflict with the likes of Oil War and still has plenty more to offer.
“Red Dawn: The Invasion of America” moves the timeline on somewhat. The previous books focused on the opening days of the war as the USSR invaded Europe at the start of August and supported Iran and Syria in distracting NATO attention on the souther flank. NATO stabilises its lines and counter attacks with an amphibious assault in Denmark and a land thrust to Leipzig.
The new book states that the lines have stabilised along the Elbe River by mid-September and that the USSR is now looking to shift the strategic balance without going Nuclear. Thankfully they have the 2nd Amendment documentary “Red Dawn” to take some pointers from and launch an invasion of North America.
Just without the nuclear decapitation.
Or a divided NATO.
Or the land invasion via the Mexico border.
Okay, look. A bit like Oil Wars you can either embrace the background provided or just use the lists for your own made up background. Either approach works.
The book spends four pages setting up events with a two pronged assault, both involving amphibious and air assaults.
One last thing on the background; I noticed this on the page describing the Canadian leg of the invasion:
With that established, we move onto the lists.
VDV BMC Air Assault Battalion
As Abba sang… “V…D…V… aha!” Maybe. The VDV form the equivalent of the US Airborne or British paratroops in so far as they are designed to jump from a serviceable aircraft, land, capture significant objectives then, *check notes*, become isolated and die/forced to surrender.
The VDV build off the existing Afghansty (themselves representing the helicopter assault battalions of the VDV) by providing the USSR forces with a higher skilled, better assaulting, infantry. Unlike the Afghansty, rather than riding in Helicopters (well, most the time – more on that in a minute) they parachute in and bring along their own IFV to!
The BMD is the lightweight cousin of the Motor Rifle battalions BMP, sporting the same armament and amphibious capability but in a lighter and more compact form. The main impact of this lighter construction seems to be a faster dash, worse cross and one less side armour making the BMD surprisingly comparable to its larger cousin. Like the BMP the BMD comes with either the -1 original 73mm/AT-3 Sagger combo or the -2 30mm autocannon and AT5 Spandrel combo.
For the infantry, three is the magic number. With the exception of Skill and Assault (both 4s) all the top right stats are 3s. This makes them reliable troops for holding ground and the 4+ Assault makes them much better at taking it too.
The infantry component of the company is equipped much like a BMP company but without the mandatory PKM teams and their transports. Instead a single PKM team is an optional addition, along with the normal AGS-17 and SA-14 teams, though you can have up two MANPAD teams per company.
These additional teams ride around in the SUV version of the BMD; the BTR-D. This loses the turret and gains a longer chassis and a pintle grenade launcher, being more of an APC than an IFV. We’ll see more of the BTR-D later.
The comparative cost of the company is not too bad, a full strength company, less upgrades, is a few points more expensive than its BMP equivalent but we do need to consider it has no PKM teams and two less IFV in that comparison.
The Formation can mix BMD-1 and -2 companies in its core boxes and can take a further company. They are also backed up by six in-formation support units.
First up, man-packed artillery finally appears in Team Yankee! The VDV have bought their 82mm mortars with them to provide cheap smoke and a FP4+ bombardment to support the infantry.
They are also carried in a pair of BTR-D which provide some additional firepower thanks to their AGS-17 grenade launchers. Its good to see man-packed artillery at long last, but I’m not convinced by basing two mortars to a large base compared to two individually based ones. It turns a resilient four-stand unit into a much more brittle two-stand one for no great gain, though each stand does at least count as two guns firing so there is no loss in artillery effectiveness.
Its also a shame that there appears to be no way to retroactively use the unit in the Afghansty Air Assault Battalion, who could certainly benefit from some persistent artillery beyond 57mm rocket fire!
The man-packed mortars are not the only artillery the VDV can field. The BTR-D chassis gave rise to the 2S9 Nona self-propelled gun-mortar. Basically what the Carnation is to BMP formations, the Nona is to the BMD formations, providing a long range, hard hitting artillery punch, direct and indirect smoke and a surprisingly good anti-tank punch, if slow firing.
All this and it can be dropped from a plane too! Like the man-packed mortars, skill 4+ ensures the rounds find their target. The higher skill and motivation does increase their cost a little over the Carnation, but I’d still consider at least a platoon of three an auto-include.
Next up is the ASU-85 Assault Gun. This was designed to give the air-landing units direct fire support using the same 85mm as the T-34/85 from WW2. It replaced the earlier ASU-57 and found itself increasingly redundant as the BMD entered service and did the job more effectively. AT14 is not going to do much in 1985 against a MBT but it still has some use versus enemy IFV and the firepower 3+ can did dug in enemy out. I’m not sure how often we’ll see them on the table but its good to see them in.
We then reach the next BTR-D variant, the BTR-RD ATGW carrier. This takes the BTR-D and adds a firing post and internal racks for the AT-5 Spandrel, basically giving the VDV their equivalent of the Spandrel wheeled ATGW. If playing a pure VDV force then the extra anti-tank firepower will be a welcome addition and its relatively cheap.
The BTR-ZD is an AA optimized version of the BTR-D. This capability is accomplished by A-Teaming it and welding a 23mm ZSU-23-2 to the top of the hull. This provides a high RoF autocannon but does suffer from the ‘manual targeting’ rule, making it harder to hit fast moving strike aircraft. thankfully the Soviets anticipated this and so also provided the crews SA14 Gremlin MANPADS too, allowing each vehicle a RoF1 48″ missile shot as an alternative firing mode. Combined with Gremlins in the infantry platoon, this should allow the VDV to ward off enemy aircraft.
The final formation unit is the tried and trusted BRDM-2. This can be chucked out of an aeroplane to give the VDV some organic recce.
Combined with the Hinds and Frogfoots, plus the BTR-D OP vehicle, in the force support its possible to do a pure VDV force that should do very well as it ticks all the main capabilities you need; infantry to assault and hold ground, IFV and ATGW carriers to ward off enemy army, mortars and gun-mortars to provide fire support and even AA and recce.
Along with the standard Air Assault Battalion we also get an “Afghansty” BMD Air Assault Company. These function much like the Shock T-80 Company compared to normal T-80 Battalion in WW3: Soviet Union, providing a higher skill, better “hit on” equivalent of the normal Air Assault Company.
The formation is pretty much the same, albeit lacking the BRDM for some reason. But in place of three BMD Company you get three BMD platoons. The platoons don’t have any attachments, instead the AGL and MANPAD are in the HQ and attached out, and are smaller than even the smaller normal VDV company, with only 6 stands and three BMD in the largest size platoon. However, they are skill 3+ and Hit on 4s, making for a very hard hitting assault unit.
Old Dog – New Tricks
Along with the two VDV formations, we also receive a new tank formation, the T-64BV.
Taking the 1970s T-64B and adding ERA to the tank, we end up with a mid-way option between the original T-64 formation and the T-80 of WW3: Soviet Union. We retain the hard hitting and advanced stabilised 125mm main gun of the T-64 but bolsters the front and side armour by a point and grants the ERA rule, bolstering side armour to 16 vs HEAT.
Compared to the T-80, the T-64BV is a couple points cheaper per tank and only really lacks for the FA20 and some mobility, having a slightly slower dash and a cross of only 3+ vs T-80’s jet-powered 2+. Its a very attractive option, especially as a platoon of T-64BV is only a point more than a similar number of T-72B, which lack the Advanced Stabiliser.
The formation itself is much the same as the T-64 formation in WW3 Soviet Union, save that the two compulsory company must by T-64BV but the third, optional, company can be either the T-64 or T-64BV company, allowing the older tank to be in to save some points.
Talking of the T-72B, it also appears as a formation in the book, the soviet version of the T-72B having previously been shoved in the back of the Warsaw Pact book. As an East German player, I love the T-72B but, much like the A, it struggles for a place in the Soviet order of battle. Its a few points more than a standard T-64 but only a point less than the new T-64BV. All it really has going for it compared to the 64BV is the AT-11 missile and that’s at a premium being a point a tank upgrade rather than the T-64’s AT-8 flat 2 points for the company.
The book repeats WW3:Soviet Unions support options so all the old favourites like TOS, Hurricane, Hinds and Frogfeet appear, along with the SU-17 Fitter.
The next section of the book is, for me, the most exciting bit; Airborne Assault.
Yep, we get a section of the book dedicated to dropping in on the enemy and taking their real estate. The first part details how parachute drops work (much like in Flames of War) and the “Airborne Assault” mission. The mission has both sides face scattered delayed reserves (deep for the Defende), start pinned and the defender has the first turn which could be an issue for the attacking parachutists!
I’m keen to give the mission a go, post Warfare. I have some reservations about the fact that there appears to be no “time of day” option (I can’t help but feel most sides would no want to do this in broad daylight!) and I wonder how the attacker will cope having to face an equal sized force on the table from the get-go.
The second part of the section details how to modify existing forces for Air Assault by allowing some existing units to be parachuted whilst adding new transport helicopters to other.
That’s right, the Chinook and Hip that were promised way back in December 2019 finally appear and they are not just terrain pieces! Even better, they bought friends in the form of the Sea Stallion, the Sea Knight and its bigger cousin, the Chinook!
With the exception of the Hip, which looks to reuse the Hind plastic rotor, the new models are resin affairs with cardboard rotors. I’m not overly fused by that as I’d likely only replace them with a plastic rotor disc anyway though the Sea Stallions ones actually don’t look too bad!
Rules are provided for every major nation to conduct air assault though Free Nations and Oil wars nations are over-looked.
Battlefront are also releasing a mission pack that contains this section plus cardboard templates for the transport helicopters and parachute drop zones.
The Cubans get a large mention in the background, being a critical staging point for the naval invasion of Texas and a major participant of that operation. The only real problem with this is that the Cubans are a bit… vanilla. They are basically East Germans with their sleeves rolled up and with the best equipment 1960 can provide…
…and sometimes a bit earlier than that!
Now, that’s not really a criticism as it reflects where Cuba *should* be. They’ve earned some experience in the likes of Angola but investment in top level gear is low on the priority list. In the context of the scenario they do the job they need to. However its not going to set the Team Yankee scene ablaze; East Germans can do it all better.
America! F*** Yeah!
The back third of the book is where things take a weird but refreshing turn and *really* leans into the scenario.
The US section shows the WW3:US force diagram and spend a few paragraphs explaining what regular and reserve units were still on the North America continent at the time of the invasion and I got briefly excited we might see a way of downgrading regular formations to be reservists but, alas, no. jaegers and Foxes remain the only reservist units in the game. Its a bit of a shame, as Andy and I had hoped we may see a national guard unit with an M48A5 (finally retired in 1987) kit, but clearly we will have to wait longer for a plastic M48.
With this tease dealt with we get to the real reason the force chart is in place; the militia group! That’s right, its time to show the Reds what a well-regulated militia can do!
Mostly what they can do is ambush the enemy in their deployment zone or No Man’s Land; “Resistance” means you count as 0pts for reserves (so can be on in addition to the 60%), can’t be placed in reserve or deployed at the start of the game but instead be deployed from ambush. Being deployed in the enemy deployment zone means they can harass enemy air defences or artillery in the back line. Being deployed in no-man’s land means they can suddenly pop up in that wood the enemy ignored as an ambush spot as it wasn’t in the US deployment zone and rattle off an RPG ambush into the flanks. The Militia aren’t especially hard hitting in shooting or assault but, placed in the right place at the right time, their presence can be a force multiplier for the US force.
A standard US force can have up to two Militia groups attached, but the real fun begins with the militia missions. Played mostly on a 4×4 table, these missions pitch a small militia band of one to two groups without pick-ups versus the invading Russian forces.
The missions link together to form a narrative that will be very familiar to those who watched a certain 1980s film. They look like they should be fun and, for the militia, require only two militia groups to play so have a low investment threshold so long as the Warsaw Pact players have the Soviet bits (highly likely).
When “Red Dawn: The Invasion of America” was announced, I’ll admit to having some scepticism on how it would fit in with the rest of the game. Its fair to say it generally fits in well, with the VDV forces, the T-64BV and the Airborne Assault missions all offering something for even the most cynical player. The Cubans are… cuban and the Militia Groups look like they offer some fun side missions to play so its a solid enough book. There is some disappoint that US National Guard and Reserve forces are not fleshed out more and that Oil Wars/Free Nations don’t get integrated into the Airborne Assault, but there’s always going to be more things that BF could do than actually get done.
Anyway, enough chat. I need to plan an airborne assault game…