Old Gamers Never Die: Tackling the ‘Mobile Defense’ Skirmish in Regiments
If you’re a regular visitor to A Certain Point of View, Too, you may remember that late last summer – in the last weeks of August – I purchased Regiments, a real-time tactical game depicting conventional combat in an alternate version of 1989 in which the Cold War goes hot and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invades West Germany.
Created by a small game studio in Eastern Europe, Bird’s Eye Games, and published by the revived software company MicroProse, Regiments is a single-player game that allows you to command elements of a regimental size unit from various countries on either side of the Iron Curtain, including:
- The United States
- West Germany
- Great Britain
- The Soviet Union
- East Germany
Regiments features a dynamic, story-based Campaign that depicts Bird’s Eye Games’ altered version of history from the perspective of various units, starting with a Warsaw Pact-loyalist East German panzer unit tasked with quelling a mutiny by a rebellious sister unit in the Nationale Volksarmee (National People’s Army) in a June of 1989 that, thankfully never happened, and continuing with Operations carried out by West German, Soviet, and other NATO and Warsaw Pact armies.
‘Cæsar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Até by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry “Havoc,” and let slip the dogs of war.’ – William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
The Ultimate Sandbox: Skirmishes in Regiments
The game, like the original MicroProse’s classic 1989 game M1 Tank Platoon, also has a single battle mode, called Skirmish, which puts you in command of various task forces based on real NATO and Pact units deployed in divided Germany circa 1989.
In Skirmish mode, you can choose from three types of engagements that commanders will face in the grand campaign:
- Mobile Defense
- Meeting Engagement
When I play Regiments, I usually play the Attack type of skirmish. It is perhaps the most straightforward: capture and hold as many of the eight enemy-held Objective Zones (OZs) as possible before the mission time clock (which can be set from as short as 20 minutes to as long as one hour) runs out. As in real combat, Attack-type situations favor the defender; the enemy is dug in; you don’t know exactly where his units are until they fire at your advancing tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and/or helicopters.
Regiments has a wide selection of West German locations and weather conditions in which you can set your Skirmishes up, and because the game randomizes the location and even the specific regiment/nationality within the enemy alliance controlled by the artificial intelligence (AI), each session of Regiments is unique – even if you choose, say, Grasleben as the battle site, Day – Clear for time of day/local weather conditions, and the same unit you command every time you play.
Today I chose to try the Mobile Defense variant in Skirmish mode. Here, you have to hold a defensive position – comprised of three fortified outposts occupied by allied forces under the computer’s control – while transport units evacuate personnel – presumably wounded troops – to two “starting areas” on the battlefield map. As a commander in this type of mission, you must protect the transport units carrying out the evac while fighting off enemy forces that are advancing against you from different avenues of approach.
Because in many ways Mobile Defense is more complicated than Attack – you have to use your limited Engineer Support points before the mission starts to set up observation points, anti-tank positions, anti-aircraft defenses, and even barbed wire obstacles – I’ve avoided playing this type of Skirmish.
But since Bird’s Eye Games updated the game on December 24 by introducing British Army units from NATO’s Northern Army Group (NORTHAG), adding a new map location, tweaking the units a bit to reflect a more accurate depiction of 1989-era equipment mixes, especially in U.S. and Soviet units, and other “quality of life” adjustments, I decided that I’d try Mobile Defense for my first Regiments session in 2023.
As I mentioned earlier, Mobile Defense involves more prep work than Attack; you don’t know where the enemy will attack from or which of your Objective Zones he is targeting first. You already have allied units on the field, so it’s not like you have to set up everything yourself. However, you do have to guesstimate where to deploy your task forces and how to spend your 100 Engineer Support points before the battle begins.
Now, Dear Reader, don’t worry. I am not going to regale you with a long, detailed account of the battle. I don’t know how to record a game session to create a video like other gamers – like The Historical Gamer – do, and I don’t take notes while I play a session of any game I play.
They came on in the same old way, and we sent them back in the same old way. – Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
What I can say is that I acquitted myself well, considering it was my first attempt to play a Mobile Defense scenario. Even though the Soviets had the initiative and I had to trust my instincts on where to place my limited amount of units and defensive materiel, I eked out a Decisive Victory with a score of 543 Victory Points. I successfully held all of my OZs, inflicting more casualties on the Soviets than they inflicted on me – except, of course, when it concerns my helicopters; the Soviets lost one Mi-24D Hind gunship, while I lost six, including two AH-64A Apache gunships and two OH-58 Kiowa scout choppers.
On the other hand, the Soviets lost one Su-25 Frogfoot attack jet, while I lost none of my A-10A Thunderbolt II ground attack aircraft.
So, there’s that!