Old Gamers Never Die: Another Victory in ‘Regiments’? I Must Be Learning How to Survive (and Thrive) in World War III

The situation at the end of the Battle of Grasleben. U.S. forces occupy five of the eight Objective Zones (OZs) and all of my available units are deployed. I could have captured OZ Foxtrot with the three units to its southwest, but I did not want to risk being ambushed by Soviet units hidden in the woods, although the fact that none of those platoons (a tank unit, a mech infantry unit, and a three-vehicle section of Bradley CFVs) supported by a battery of M109A3 self-propelled howitzers drew any enemy fire. (All of these images from Regiments are from actual gameplay and are not promo shots. All game design elements are (C) 2022 Bird’s Eye Games and MicroProse.)

“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” – Gen. Creighton W. Abrams, Jr., USA

Well, I’ll be damned. I won another victory against the Warsaw Pact in the Cold War-turns-hot real-time tactical wargame, Regiments.[1]

The burned-out wrecks of a Soviet tank and several dug-in BMP Infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) near Objective Zone Bravo. The tank is either a T-72 or T-80.

As you know, I bought this game on the day it was released on Steam, partly because I am a fan of games in this genre, even though I am not a 21st Century Patton and still have much to learn about such things as fire-and-maneuver, accepting casualties with a bit more sangfroid in order to carry out a mission, and how to properly time tactical aids such as artillery barrages, air strikes, and reconnaissance missions over enemy territory.

Once again, I selected the Grasleben Attack scenario, and I chose another U.S. Army unit (I can command brigades/regiments from four NATO countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, West Germany, and Belgium) and from different parent divisions in those armies.

The scene at the start of the battle. Here, a scout unit cautiously moves forward to see if any Soviet Units are nearby. The concentric circles indicate the line of sight (LOS) and relative visibility at the point selected. Note that there are blind spots caused by trees, hedges, and undulations in the terrain.
This is from a bit later in the battle. Note that the Blue force is a bit larger now, and even though reinforcements are still due to arrive (note the New TF in 3:3 8 advisory next to the data panel re the M3A2 CFV at bottom center, several combat teams have already exchanged fire with the enemy and are being resupplied. Note the impact craters from both sides’ artillery and ground attack aircraft.

This time around, I selected the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Armored Division, which in 1989 was a component of the Army’s V Corps and was assigned to the Central Army Group (CENTAG) in West Germany. It was in CENTAG and the Northern Army Group (NORTHAG) where NATO strategists thought the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact would try to make a dash for the Rhine River because the North German Plain was ideal for an armored force to advance through. It’s also closer to the Soviet/Warsaw Pact logistics bases in East Germany, Poland, and the western Soviet Union, so even though Soviet forces could have also crossed into southern West Germany through Czechoslovakia in a secondary thrust, the hilly and heavily forested terrain favored the defense and would have been tougher to use tanks and other mobile forces in, not to mention the difficulties of keeping those Soviet forces properly supplied with fuel, ammunition, and fuel.

A 120th Guards Motor Rifle Regiment BRDM armored car used by Soviet forward observers was caught by American DPICM submunitions fired by M109A3 howitzers, The unit icons marked in blue are on the field and in action. Units with chevrons to the right of their NATO symbol have combat experience and are marked as “veterans”. Units in white and with little numbers in the lower right corner of their type symbols are ready to be deployed (the number indicates how many deployment points they cost to send into battle. Units in mostly black are in the queue but I only have 181 deployment points and can’t afford to ask for them.

“It is soldiers who pay most of the human cost. In war, it is extraordinary how it all comes down to the character of one man.”  – Gen. Creighton W. Abrams, Jr. USA

Apparently, Regiments has one Warsaw Pact unit – the 120th Guards Motor Rifle Regiment – as the fixed opposing force (OPFOR) in the Grasleben Skirmish, and because it’s listed twice in the After-Action Report, I assume it’s because I faced two battalions of the 120th Guards MRR.

I am not going to write a complete history of the Battle of Grasleben. I don’t have the time to write one if I want to publish this post tonight, and you don’t want a shot-by-shot account – complete with made-up dialogue – either.

“When in doubt, ATTACK!” ― Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., USA

The Battle of Grasleben nears its end – you can see that there are three minutes and two seconds of game time left on the counter at center top. We hold Objective Zones Alfra, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, and Echo. The 120th Guards MRR presumably still controls Foxtrot, Golf, and Hotel, although it looks as though that small American force at the lower right of the battle area could have made a dash for OZ Foxtrot. Note the small fire north of Bravo and west of Delta; a Soviet force attempted to drive against Delta but was repulsed. The Soviets did shoot down one of my two AH-1F Cobra attack choppers (the survivor’s unit icon can be seen between the Chaparral SAM battery and the M106 mortar at the center of the image, right above OZ Alfa.

Suffice it to say, Dear Reader, that I’ve figured out a way to nibble away at the Soviet defenses with the small number of American units while I assemble a battalion-sized force and start capturing Objective Zones (OZs) one by one. (The most ambitious operation I can attempt is to go for two OZs at the same time, but for that, I need to have enough Deployment Points to create two balanced combined arms teams and provide enough artillery and air support to assist them both.)

One thing that helped, I think, is that I was able to change the Skirmish time limit from 30 minutes to 40. Last time I played Regiments with the 30-minute limit I tried to make too many decisions regarding whether to advance on an OZ or stand pat on the ones I already occupied. I opted to advance into what seemed like an undefended zone, only to lose half a platoon – two vehicles – of M1 Abrams main battle tanks and an entire platoon of Bradley M2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle with 26 infantrymen to a well-laid ambush by Soviet T-80 tanks and BMP-2 IFVs. I used A-10s to destroy those pesky Soviets and sent another two-platoon force to capture the objective, but the losses from the earlier attempt counted against me when the game sorted out who won and who lost.

Setup screen for an earlier Skirmish in which I chose harsh weather and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

“They came on in the same old way and we defeated them in the same old way.” Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

This time around, with 10 extra minutes to do battle in, I made an operational plan – which, of course, had to be adjusted on the fly because the 120th Guards MRR launched several counterattacks and I had to react to those – and executed it. Not with great skill or finesse, but at least I attacked (and held firm against three counterattacks); once I got going, I tried to control the tempo of the battle and not give Ivan a chance to regroup or launch unexpected attacks from the flanks.

Not only that, but I was able to field my entire three task forces for the first time in a Skirmish since this time around I earned enough Deployment Points to activate all the units at my disposal.

With One Minute Remaining, my surviving Cobra flies in the direction of OZ Foxtrot, but no Soviet forces are nearby. Damn. I could have grabbed that zone, but you know what they say: Once burned, twice shy.

I did, of course, suffer casualties. I lost a few more men killed in action (88 U.S. KIA to 79 Soviet KIA) than the 120th MRR, but my Kill/Death Value ratio was better than the enemy’s, and Russian casualties – mainly wounded in action – were higher than those of the 1st Brigade/3rd Armored Division.

My best platoon was 2/C Wheelock, equipped with M1IP Abrams tanks, which accounted for all the Soviet units listed in its box. I love the After-Action Report page, even when I don’t win, because it gives you a tally of who did what to whom. The Bradley platoon from 3/F Wheelock did well, too.

Still, I earned another victory. A narrow one – again – to be sure, but hell, I’ll take a win any old day!

[1] Which was developed by Bird’s Eye Games and published by the reincarnated MicroProse on August 16.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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