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Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games)

 
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Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/9/2021 12:49:41 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Hells Crossroads and Reversed – A Mirror Match HvH AAR

Having recently played a few bouts of Red Storm, I figured it was time for an AAR. One of the advantages of RS as a light and quick game is that for human vs human you can mirror match – as in each player plays both sides, in this case sequentially – thereby ensuring everyone gets to experience the same trials and jubilations. If you haven’t played RS HvH, it is infinitely stronger there, easy to do, and quick to play. So...you know...give it a shot.
The scenario is Hell’s crossroads, chosen largely because I’d never played it and after a few American scenarios brining out the brits seemed a change.

My opponent can chip in or remain anonymous as he so chooses.

The Situation – D+3, 0700 Local

It is D+3 and the NATO forward defense – politically required, but operationally vulnerable – has collapsed. Already the Soviets have penetrated 150+ miles into the British sector while the BAOR mobilization schedule struggles to adjust to the intensity and pace of the war. British units are being fed in as available while the Soviet forces try to drive in the last nails that will rupture the enemy depths entirely.

On D+2 the 7th BAOR Armoured BDE and the Soviet 16th GTD met at Melle. The two formations ruined each other, but the Soviets held the field at the day’s end. The 21st MRD passed the re-organizing 16th GTD in the night. The march columns, predictably, fell into chaos. Now the 125th GTR, supposedly a breakout formation meant to be reserved for more fluid maneuver, is somehow leading the advance with part of the 143rd MRR in tow. With no time to re-organize, the soviet forces advance to secure the crossroads of HWY 30 and 31 a mere 10 miles from the Dutch border. Secure them and Soviet 2nd Guards Tank Army can pass forward in any number of directions, all of them potentially catastrophic for NATO.

The British meanwhile, have just finished mobilizing the storied 12th Armoured BDE and sent it into the fray to stop the enemy at these key crossroads. Where the soviets are disorganized and worn down, they are fresh. Where the soviets were only awarded Guards status one week before the invasion for morale purposes, these are some of the best troops in the British Army. Where the soviets struggle forward with what forces they have and equipment past it’s prime, the British are well equipped and have a balanced combined arms force.

But they are slow. And they are outnumbered, badly.

The two forces advance towards each other as the morning sun burns off the fog…

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/9/2021 1:02:03 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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The Soviets

The main body of the soviet formation is tanks. Lots of tanks.

Between the four organic battalions of the 125th GTR, a battalion of the 111th GTR caught out of march order, and the organic tank battalion of the 143rd MRR, the soviets bring north of 245x T64 tanks to the fight.

Organized in companies of 13 or 10 tanks a piece, the individual formations, even battalions are incapable of carrying a well crafted British position. Their sheer mass and firepower mean that in a meeting engagement or in the defense they can often bowl over the better BAOR units by virtue of simply having enough tanks to weather the exchange of fire. Individual companies and even whole battalions will still be destroyed or rendered ineffective, but in the right circumstances they’ll wreck their fair share of British in the act.

And we did mention they have over 240 of them, right?



Courtesy of the great roads mix up, only two battalions of the 143rd MRR’s infantry is actually present. A mixed force with one battalion in BMP2Ds (which for some reason have not been fitted with their classic ATGM system) and one in BTR-80s. Their chief, and possibly only, value lies in that both battalions might be able to overcome British infantry in close if they can get there without being slaughtered. The BMP battalion has at least a chance of fighting light enemy vehicles, while the BTR battalion is generally helpless before it dismounts. (The modern Russians have in fact undertaken to refit and partially arm BTRs with 30mm cannon in many cases to deal with exactly that problem).



The regimental recon forces for the 125th and 143rd are also present, at least partially, consisting of mostly of BRDMs, two platoons of AT-BRDMs, one fighting patrol of 3x T64s and one of 3x BMP1s. As the name implies these are mostly useful for finding the enemy - even better is finding where the enemy isn’t. Regrettably for their crews, NATO’s superiority in virtually every part of the recon fight finding the enemy usually translates to one frantic report before the end.

Supporting this impressive weight of metal is a surprisingly sparse artillery force. A mere 3x batteries of 2S1s for the 125th’s RAG and two organic mortar batteries for the MRBs. Outranged by NATO artillery and carrying a lighter than optimal shell, these are really for suppression and hunting fragile targets. There is no expectation that soviet artillery can batter down a part of the line here in the way it might in other battles.



But the Soviets do have two things that can. 8x Mi-24V Hinds and a pair of SU-24s as CAS. Four more SU-24s will show later, if the battle lasts that long.

The 24Vs are the most common of the type, and a thoroughly mediocre both as a modern attack helicopter. As opposed to the 24P series you’ll often see paired with category A formations in game, they require a bit for target acquisition and missile launch, tend to be less effective with their weapons, and generally aren't as easy to use. They are, however, armored and pack ATGMs if you can get them in place long enoygh.

The Su-24s, in contrast, are loaded for bear with precision bombs and cluster munitions. If they don’t get shot down they will erase whatever needs erasing.



And finally, a hodge-podge of mixed ADA assets permeates the column - Tunguskas, Gophers, and Geckos. Generally soviet air defenses range from competent to hyper lethal, so as long as any of these are up there’s a good chance the red army will be fighting under an umbrella.

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/9/2021 1:10:58 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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The BAOR

While more balanced than the soviet force, the BAOR is also tank heavy. The 1st battalion of the 4th Royal Tank Regiment is present with 56x Chieftain Mk 11s, split among four companies. Unlike American forces, the company structure is four platoons of three tanks each, increasing articulation within the company. In reality this comes at the cost of the platoon not being able to support itself with independent elements nearly as well, and possibly speaks to the British still not trusting lower level leaders to the extent that their German and American allies do, but that goes beyond the scope of RS. Here, it just means more units with slightly less lethality/survivability per unit.

The effect is that British have several potentially lethal units, but each one is sufficiently fragile that being caught in even a “fair” fight can see them die in a short blaze of fury as they kill and are killed in turn. But any one of them in the right position can make the Soviets pay.



The infantry portion of the task force comes from the Royal Green Jackets, who come with three rifle companies of three platoons each and the battalion anti-tank company which has two sections of self-propelled ATGM and four platoons of dismounted Milans. All of them are mounted in FV432s (it’s roughly analogous to a M113) so other than the SP-AT sections the men are the weapons, not the vehicles. Of course, those men are very good, and even one platoon in close terrain can mount an extended and destructive defense. The ATGMs have a short range -2km – but are entirely capable of savaging anything the soviets have within that range band.



Filling the reconnaissance role are eight Scimitars and eight Scorpions, working in two vic sections. Essentially the same light tank with different guns – 30mm auto cannon versus a 76mm cannon – these vehicles are quite capable of engaging, and winning against, anything short of a soviet tank. As an added plus, the 30mm cannons can be used for impromptu local air defense. Generally speaking their only weakness as a reconnaissance vehicle is that right behind the light stuff they just killed is often a tank column…which they most definitely won’t.



And for fire support there are initially just the RGJ’s organic 120mm mortars, but they’ll soon be joined by three batteries (24x guns) of Paladins from the 4 RTR’s artillery. Those paladins are actually broken in to platoons, allowing as with the tanks for greater articulation at the expense of less weight of fire per mission. As an entirely game-based effect, this practically doubles the amount of special munitions available for no real loss.

And while more modern players may be used to thinking of the Paladin as a second rate gun, for the time period it represents the state of the art, so that's in the BAOR's favor as well.


Also coming as soon as they can, a section of gazelle helicopters that can be best described as news helicopters someone hung a missile on (with predictable survivability on a battlefield where there are literally dozens of heavy machineguns per square kilometer), and a section of Tornados which are brilliant killers – if they can survive the soviet ADA fires, which is not terribly likely until some suppression has occurred.

And last, but not least, the entirety of the British anti-air umbrella is provided by four Rapier missile systems. They are…serviceable. Against helicopters, given time and opportunity, they can get the job done. Against fixed wing their engagement envelop struggles unless the soviets fly right down their throat.


< Message edited by GloriousRuse -- 11/9/2021 1:11:49 AM >

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/9/2021 1:51:34 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Tech Match-Ups to Watch For

The cold war saw the birth of the term techno-tactical for a reason – increasingly specialized weapon systems could perform extraordinarily in the right situations against the right foes, but be rendered worse than useless by other circumstances. Appropriately, the match ups matter in RS. As an aside, RS focuses on being a quick and light command game, which means at times some of the tactical match ups fall under beer and pretzels verisimilitude to make a point at the expense of simulationist accuracy, often exacerbating perceived situational advantages.

T-64 vs Chieftain Mk11.

A battle of the last generation. The T-64 was a fine front line tank for it’s time, but by 1989 it is second class given western advances in optics, fire control, and protection. Despite several upgrade packages it struggles with a lack of thermals, poor acquisition on the move, accuracy fall off on the move and at range, and insufficient armor to survive under fire unless already in a defensive position. That said, it has the trademark 125mm cannon, and when it does hit only latest generation western MBTs can survive.

In contrast, the Chieftain represents one of the last marks built of that class before the full transition to Challenger series tanks. It has excellent optics and a killing gun, as well as the full suite of fire control that would later be built into the Challenger; in terms of striking power, it is in many ways the same tank. Where the difference lies is in the armoring – even the late mark chieftain’s armor is hopelessly outclassed by soviet weapons. If it is hit, there is a fair chance it will die.

Which all adds up to a simple tactical equation. Whoever is caught moving dies. Either western technology or soviet weight of fire will ensure hits, and no one can actually survive being hit. Defenders win, probably one sidedly. Meeting engagements destroy each other. Firefights are determined by range and weather.

ATGM vs T64

The T-64, even with ERA, simply cannot stand up to Milan fire, and has to come within Milan range to hit back effectively. This is a one way death sentence unless the tanks can catch the missiles loaded up and moving (or, I suppose are willing to feed enough tanks into the grinder to run the Milans out of missiles - not the recommended approach). Adding to this, RS has rather substantially over-modeled ATGM RoF, Ph/Pk, and possibly ammo loads for sole purpose ATGMs, meaning single tube vehicles can effectively become anti-tank machineguns. One of those quirks to look out for, partially compensated for by their remarkable fragility to artillery fire.

Tactically, once the Milans are in place they mean that for 2,000m around movement will be somewhere between expensive and force shattering.

Aviation vs ADA

A bit of an oddity here. The British Rapier missile did not perform very well in the Falklands, and there is ample data to confirm that. In game, that is also reflected in it’s generally mediocre performance against helicopters and fixed wing. While it can shield ground forces from hinds, it is generally not very lethal and requires several engagements. Engagements no player is going to give it, given its radar stays turned on all the time. It is close to worthless against fixed wing unless said planes fly down it’s throat.

Soviet ADA never really got tested “properly” and it turns out their manufacturers claims were perhaps...shall we say…optimistic. RS gives them the benefit of the doubt and generally the soviet systems range from "good enough to render flying nearby a bad idea" to "if there is one anywhere on the field, anything that goes up in the air dies." So NATO's cherished airpower is going to probably not be an issue.


Infantry vs AFV


The British infantry absolutely murders anything in a vehicle in close terrain. Frankly, to the point of absurdity well beyond any sense of the sane. The LAW-80 is a fine light AT weapon in real life, though being a shoulder launched rocket using simple flip sights it's theoretical range of 500m is not entirely practical and the single charge warhead can have issues with ERA on heavier vehicles. And at a somewhat awkward 10kg of tube a piece, squads don't carry all that many of them.

In RS, ignore that. The 500m range means they get to shoot one hex out. They will shoot while running. While retreating. While defending. While pulling themselves out of their burning vehicles. While under fire from heavy MGs, cannons, artillery, whatever. They will fire LAWs with precision that I would call laser guided but real laser guided ATGMs don't have the hit rate of these things. Every single infantrymen is Colour Sgt Rambo MacCleod of the Clan MacLeod, wielding dual LAWS akimbo and mowing down AFVs like mooks in an action movie until the ammo runs out - which will be awhile, because for something that weighs as much as a machinegun and is three feet long, it seems like every man is packing a couple on his back.

Your only hope is to get infantry in close enough to kill them, even though this inevitably means every adjacent IFV and APC explodes to the LAW-storm, or kill them on the move and far away.








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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/9/2021 3:31:32 PM   
loki100


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From: Utlima Thule
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as I wrote on another thread ...

quote:

ORIGINAL: loki100

...

unfortunately my opponent really knows what he is doing so I'm usually losing and not always sure why.

...


I was busily looking at wikipedia trying to work out what some of this stuff was meant to be firing at

_____________________________


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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/10/2021 1:34:20 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Terrain



There it is, in all of it's glory. Not only is this a meeting engagement, it is one on eerily symmetrical terrain. The battlefield is practically defined by two major avenues in the center and the north, a less practical but still feasible southern avenue, and three central potential battle positions that dominate the avenues and everything around them in the form of the northern ridge, the central woods, and the town of Samern. The remaining open terrain is just dying ground or a final approach to one of the key positions.

Less related to the main avenues, but covering the southern route and affecting the critical Samern position are the positions in and around Schuttorf and the southern woods. Each side also has a less exposed approach to the Samern-Schuttorf cluster, with the NATO approach havign good cover all the way in and the WP approach really only viable if NATO hasn't made it there yet or the soviets commit to a deliberate attack.

Additionally, each force has a series of final urban/woods fall backs, but by then the matter of if the 2nd Guards Tank Army can use the vital stretch of A31 out of direct fire contact has been decided (as have the the terrain VPs).

All of which means the phasing of the battle is pretty predictable:

1.There will be a race to get to the key battle positions first, balancing getting in position and taking ground against the risk of going too big and being annihilated on the move. There is some advantage to the soviets here, who are both faster and who are the indisputable winners if two forces on the move smash in to each other at anything but very long range.

2. With positions now set, each side sets to shaping the battlefield with fires to see what advantages they can create or crisis's they can redeem. Meanwhile, light probing. This is a bit of a wash - the SU-24s are certainly the best killers likely to be available at this point, but supply constraints keep their sortie rate low, and meanwhile the BAOR will be building artillery superiority, generally winning the long range duels, and will have an easier time neutralizing small units with fire. If the hinds can be assured clear air they can lend their weight as well...

3. A final commitment as the last reserves are sent to secure one last position or to shatter the other side completely. Honestly, the odds aren't great for whoever has to go on to the attack here unless they've already destroyed the enemy, but there is a chance that chaos and creativity will make an opportunity.



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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/10/2021 9:21:40 AM   
HeinzBaby


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Rollmops, Gerkins, cheese and Heinekens,
Have to watch this, see how it plays out...

Thoroughly enjoying your Sitrep,
I've played this senario many a time and found that old chestnut "git' thar furstus with the mostest" usually wins..

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Heia Safari

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/11/2021 1:33:04 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Well, that's the trick of it. Buy low, sell high, all that../

BAOR Plan



As Heinze alluded to, my initial plan as the BAOR was pretty simple. Race to the key battle positions in a manner that allowed my tanks and ATGMs to fire with impudence into engagement areas while my infantry protected them against approaches in closer terrain.

Pretty basic here, I left two platoons of ATGMs, a company of tanks, and a company of infantry in reserve. That may seem like a lot, but once a unit is committed it's inevitable losses, disruption, tricks of the battlefield and local crisis control almost always mean it is lost for real decisions until it is disengaged. Since that can't be guaranteed, a commander often only has a many real decisions left as he has reserves, and the fluid nature of this one meant I wanted a few cards up my sleeve.

Given a lack of fire support assets, my initial HPTL was short and direct:

1. Infantry. In a reversal of the usual order of things, I cared much more about killing any mech BNs I could find. Kill them and the only option left to the soviets for everything west of the crossroads would involve prohibitive losses in close terrain or braving ATGM fire on final approach.

2. Hinds. Because they can possibly kill tanks in good positions, the soviets don't have many, and because their avionics allow pick up on ADA radar, which in turn means that ADA is going to die. Which means the last chance of doing anything to stop the SU-24s would go away.

Obviously there would be HPTL shifts later, but that was the phase I sum of it.

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/11/2021 1:53:52 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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0700-0718: In which the first 18 minutes go wrong



The problem with plans relying on getting their first with the most is that you actually have to do that. If you don't, the thing starts to look shaky.

I badly mismanaged traffic. I'm not sure if it was getting to used to American speed, not accounting for stack ups at bridges and terrain, keeping units too tight in the march order, or all of the above, but I bungled. Hard. Traffic snarls occurred everywhere, and what looked like perfectly sensible deployments devolved into streams of bumper to bumper vehicles and presumably cursing pixel-troopers.

The only upside was that the soviets, clearly expecting us to move faster, mostly shelled the crap out of positions a thousand meters in front of the columns.

Worse, the Soviets had clearly done a better job at the traffic thing. I could only see ground forces up north, but it didn't take any brilliant deduction to realize their central thrust probably closely mirrored that progress. If I continued on my current course I was going to slam the bulk of my force into a moving meeting engagement in the open or at short ranges - a sure recipe for getting them killed in frantic exchanges with the lead soviet echelon.

So, change of plans. I felt I could not concede the central woods, but getting there would be hideously painful. The new plan became to drop a smoke screen across A30, then enter the woods from the western edge, with some tanks then turning south to pick up firing positions in a much slower covered approach, and some establishing an Iraqi defense behind the infantry.

(In the Iran-Iraq war, it turned out that if you put the conscripts in trenches out front, then left the expensive and regime supporting republican guard armor behind them, the attacking Iranian forces would become enmeshed in the firts line, allowing the armor to emerge and deal with the Iranians with a degree of impunity. It required a certain sangfroid about friendly fire - the western version I prefer to think of as infantry blocking positions canalizing movement into local armor EAs while their fire keeps the enemy focused off the looming threat. I must say that in hex speak, they look like the same thing.)

In Schuttorf-Samern, a similar decision, sans smoke. The armor would occupy the western ridge while infantry occupied the lower ground near the bridges, the tanks being able to fire in support of the infantry on to anything that emerged on the eastern ridge while maintaining range and good cover. Well, all except one lone platoon sent to cover EA C2, who would become Victoria Cross winners later.

Really only the north and the southern screen stayed unchanged...the first largely because the traffic jam had become such a cluster that the only way out was through in that tight space.


< Message edited by GloriousRuse -- 11/11/2021 1:58:13 AM >

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/11/2021 5:44:55 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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0736: But it sort of works outs



Things went, as they usually do, somewhere between the plan and my worst fears.

In the north, the lead soviet tank battalion continued down the road, brushed aside my recon patrol and killed a hastily wihtdrawing tank in about fifteen seconds, and then drove straight into the planned EA. Fortunately, enough defenders reached their positions moments ahead of the soviet arrival. After roughly 26 soviet tanks and an air defense platoon evaporated for only one more tank and a few APCs lost, the remainder of the soviet column diverted to join another battalion that was making straight for the central woods. They left a light picket of recon vehicles to screen Emsburen. The northern approach was shut down for now, but it was clear that the central woods was going to be very touch and go based on who could get in faster. Fortunately, it looked like I was winning that race.

The center was more of a mixed bag. On the upside, the smoke screen meant my traffic errors only cost the BAOR two tanks and an unfortunate mortar track. Much less happily, the central soviet battalion occupied the northern side of Samern for a grand total of three losses, closing off my access along A30 and possibly rolling to provide support near the bridges.

This supported the fourth identified soviet tanks battalion that was advancing on Samern along the L39, moving directly in EA C2. I was also afraid that the success in Samern might allow a penetration along the A30, but fortunately this did not materialize.

At this point, a mere 36 minutes (and roughly two player turns) into the fight roughly all the initial major decisions were at the point where there was little left to do but see them through.

I dispatched one of my seven reserve tank platoons and another ATGM platoon to Schuttorf and to increase the weight of fire in EA C2 and South, aware that it was becoming a potentially sticky situation.

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/11/2021 11:04:49 PM   
Deathtreader


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Thanks for the great write-up!!

Rob.

_____________________________

So we're at war with the Russkies eh?? I suppose we really ought to invade or something. (Lonnnng pause while studying the map)
Hmmmm... big place ain't it??
- Sir Harry Flashman (1854)

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/12/2021 11:57:20 AM   
loki100


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I really struggled to work this scenario out. What was clear was all that open space was potentially lethal but I missed a few bits (as I'll freely confess, I don't always recognise the nuances of the formations). So as an eg, it was clear the MRR formations had the potential to die horribly, I'd missed that this process was going to be sped up as they lacked the usual ATGMs.

So the bit I got right - sending a tank battalion at full speed down the A30 (unfortunately I then didn't do much of any real value with it).

The rest, I wanted that wood as I felt that in combination it gave me some rear area security. So the nothern tanks (which are already all destroyed) were trying to go east of the wood to catch any NATO units moving into the wood, while the mixed tank/recon force shown to the west of the wood was meant to clear it (or at least back NATO up so they couldn't use for it observation).

One MRB lurked in Emsburg, it had orders to move to the woods but with a 180 delay - I like this structure with the Soviets as it saves later orders, you can repurpose and/or lift the restriction at any stage.

I'd also missed that this version of the Hind was less than stellar. In fact my main offensive combat power ended up being the SU-24s but with the order cycle, need to re-equip and so on it didn't really compensate for the rest. Basically, with a few exceptions here and there, BAOR gets into the defensive line that it excels at.

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/12/2021 2:04:04 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Thanks to the commentators, and thanks to Loki for chiming in as the Evil Empire. (He gets to defend freedom and tea next time)

0813: The first wave breaks



It's moments like this that really showcase the good and the odd in RS. The one thing that is absolutely on display is the speed in which cold war era battles and formations collapse into entropy.

It is now 73 minutes since the battle "began", and less than 60 since the lead forces first saw each other. And already we can say that the first wave of the soviet attack, constituting five of eight of their major maneuver battalions, has broken. Oh, there are still fights happening here and there, actions that have to fight to their end, but the attack itself has achieved all it was going to achieve. In that same time span defenders have either become irretrievably committed, blunted into nubs, or managed to finish their fight and get ready for the next actions. I don't know exactly how long it is taking me to write this post, but there is a good chance it's longer than it takes a tank battalion to die.

How did that happen? Well, that's where some of the best and the worst of RS tactical modelling start to show.

Moving south to north:

In the far south, off screen here, the better British recon tanks generally won their fights and knocked back any soviet effort to creep around the flank. The way is closed unless the soviets want to send a tank BN.

Near C2 is where the real slaughter happened. An entire tank BN died in or near the EA, as did part of the BMP BN as it cresteded the ridge. On the one side, this is exactly what should happen to a BN crashing head on into an established tank company engagement area. Modern tank rate of fire and ph is capable of utter devastation (there is, as my anecdotal example of this, a qualifying engagement for American tanks where a crew needs to hit two stationary and one moving tank targets at ranges from 1500-2500m in twenty one seconds just to pass, let alone score well). On the other, the two command tracks that made it to the SE side of town picked up 38 AFV kills in the space of a quarter hour - not a question of could they shoot this on a range, which they absolutely could, but for some reason the oncoming T-64s rarely if ever fired, even after closing to under 1000m.

On the north side of Samern, two British tank platoons pulled up in to range to attack the town by fire. This...did not go well. They killed some tanks, but were killed in turn.

The central woods saw the soviet tank BNs crash into the RGJ infantry company that beat them to the spot by a few minutes. The assault, as of 0813, is still on going but the infantry have already destroyed 20 vehicles and don't look to be moving any time soon. If the soviets do manage to advance, the backstopping armor will kill them. This part of the attack is over except for the dying. Again, we have the mix - infantry stopping armor in the deep woods "feels" right. That the infantry is chucking light AT fire hundreds of meters through the same deep woods (the tanks aren't even in hex yet) with unerring precision and effect, that's hard to believe down at the rocket-by-rocket level.

And there we have it. As the first attack churns to a violent close, the Russians still hold the crossroads, but the BAOR is still capable of containing them. And it is clear that the next Russian wave won't have the benefit of a meeting engagement.

Unfortunately, the SU-24s are starting to make themselves known...


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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/13/2021 3:03:35 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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0813-1035: Shaping Operations

With the initial hectic battle over, the battle settled into a series of firefights, artillery targeting, and a few minor efforts. Very little of the overall picture of engaged forces changed - primarily the UK artillery arrived and began firing on targets of interes (including the soviet HQ a few times), the Su-24s killed a couple tank platoons (including our earlier VC winners), and the ongoing firefights killed some, but not a great many, soviets and a few British squads.

Also, the fearsome Gazelles arrived, I sent them deep, and they promptly got shot down by BTRs, serving as little more than radar warning locators for BAOR artillery to kill soviet ADA. Ooops.

None the less, it was not completely without incident:

The soviet hinds attempted to attack the forces in Schuttorf, but a combination of 30mm cannon and extreme range rapier fire beat them back with three losses.



In the north, I pushed a small fighting patrol with two Scorpions and two Chieftains onto the ridge near Emsburen. They actually found the BTR mounted BN laagering in town, as well as a mortar battery to the south of there, and the patrol (and some supporting artillery) did a decent amount of damage before the hinds returned.





Those companies that moved back to the edge of town are minutes away from being murdered by tank fire from outside the effective range of anything they have.

The at 1035, the scouts near Emsburn reported that another tank BN was committing. Since the odds of just one of the remaining two being fed in piece meal were low, and I could see most of the north, I assumed they had to be coming from one of the two southern routes. Samern-Schuttorf then, that'd be the scene of the final gamble.



Fortunately, the reserves had been prepared to move before then...






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Post #: 14
RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/13/2021 11:49:51 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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1035-End: A Last Urrah

With plentiful FASCAM to work with, the artillery put in a series of minefields quickly. One derailed the lead battalion of the northern thrust, and the rest began to choke off the approaches from the south.

As with many other things in RS, the trade of realism for verisimilitude is one of those things you have to accept as the price of paying a quick playing beer and pretzels cold war game. I think the average gamer is probably more than aware that FASCAM seeding is a fairly extensive mission for more than a point minefield. At the same time, you CAN put in a point minefield pretty quickly, and after the first track blows off, who's to say that the guys running into know the difference right away or aren't at least delayed looking for a way around? And the soviet theorists WERE terrified of FASCAM, albeit more because they had visions of the lead echelon paying in blood for time and ground, only for the second echelon to turn into a horrible snarl as they ran into mined intersections and roads that should be clear.

Anyhow...



At this point I actually forgot to save the end file. Whoops. Suffice to say, disrupted by mines, driving directly into the Schuttorf defensive belt, and hammered as all the ICM stocks were fired, the tanks died and the battle ended.

Loki, if I could prevail on you for the final battlefield review.

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Post #: 15
RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/14/2021 6:37:15 AM   
HeinzBaby


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Excellent AAR, really enjoyed it.
(my favorite units in FC are the Brits and Russ)
cheers!!

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/14/2021 12:55:33 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Thanks! It'll be flipping around the sides soon

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/15/2021 8:20:13 AM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: GloriousRuse

Thanks! It'll be flipping around the sides soon


so lets see what our respective HR reviews have to say:





At least I'm only borderline incompetent, that is not so bad really?

Loss chart from my side, as mentioned, I ended up very reliant on the Su-24s and with the poor UK ADA they supplied most of my raw killing power





While for Perfidious Albion, the load was more widely spread. The short range British mortars are fairly useless. For the record, the Su-24s took out that British platoon in the end.

And the final layout for my side.



This scenario is relatively unusual in that its a meeting engagement where one side is poorly set for a running battle and the other is poorly set if it comes down to an assault on a defensive line. As mentioned, I really struggled just at the level of reading the map (good that I'd never played it before from either side). Given that after 40 minutes it was efectively over, not having a clear opening plan is not a good idea. Minor problems then came from not spotting the gaps in the Soviet MRR equipment, so a company just died under fire from recon assets as it had no ATGMs etc.

The other meeting engagements in the game series tend to be recon set ups or with the US forces - which can survive a bit more of an open battle.

The reverse will show what happens when BAOR is still moving when the shooting starts

great credit to the scenario designs, to generate so many interesting tests and things you'd like to go back to and explore with a different approach

< Message edited by loki100 -- 11/15/2021 8:30:12 AM >


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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/15/2021 2:13:08 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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The Soviets - The Plan

Well, a proper meeting engagement, of the type Soviet theorists were so convinced would be the main form of contact in the war that never was. Since they dumped a lot of intellectual energy into solving that problem, I figured I might as well use their doctrinal template as a basis.

Three echelons then; one to start the fight, one to secure intermediate objectives, and one to exploit and pass through into the next part of the depths.

The first echelon's job is pretty straight forward: advance as fast as possible and get into a fight, either destroying the enemy caught in a mobile battle (even if it means that echelon itself is combat ineffective by the end) or setting the base around which the rest of the force maneuvers. My first echelon consisted of one tank BN (and it's recon) pushing towards the eastern ridge of Schuttorf-Samern, and one pushing through the northern ridge towards Emgden.

The second echelon exists to secure the needed objectives, either by maneuver, simple occupation, or force. In my case this meant one tank BN to each the west side of the central woods, where firepower could control the local road net, one tank BN to the southern woods to try to lock down the southern approaches along the A31, and the BMP BN passing through the lead echelon to secure the bridges at Schuttorf-Samern.

The third echelon is for exploitation. I would have liked to put more in here, but I also chose to maintain a reserve. As it was, my third echelon consisted of the five company tank battalion, with simple orders to just keep on going down the A30 and then be prepared to attack in whatever direction the enemy HQ and reserves were, preventing any effective response to the other parts of the battle.

Other than that, recon was used to screen the gaps (including the south), and one hind platoon got special orders to go do an electronics collection run to identify enemy ADA before I committed the SU-24s. The odds of a rapier kill are low, but 5% (big round number) chance of losing your best tool that could be 0%...well you try to set it to zero.

The artillery was pushed up, a long with a reserve BN of BTRs, to gain the range needed to hit BAOR forces - especially the ADA. And finally, one tank BN was kept in reserve.





(These are actually shots from the playback - I think the units may have already made it a hex beyond the starting line)

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Post #: 19
RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/15/2021 3:06:59 PM   
fluidwill matrix

 

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Excellent AAR, thanks.

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Post #: 20
RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/17/2021 1:26:41 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Thanks fluid, always nice to know it's being appreciated.

0700-0734: Now for wrath, now for ruin...



The 1st echelon won the race. And by winning the race, also won the first series of engagements. But more importantly than that, winning the race meant any fight for the key terrain was going to happen either in the open, at close range, or moving - all of which favor the soviets here - and that it meant the echelons assigned to seizing objectives would likely be able to move up, if not uncontested, then at least under the cover of very favorable fires.

The battle is far from over at this point, but I will admit that I felt quite optimistic after seeing this sequence play out:

Recon units made contact and somehow are not immediately slaughtered by the British; both sides fell back of their own accord and thought better of this fighting business.




The path into Samern was open, and my lead battalion got to the eastern ridge in time to sqaure off part of a British tank company occupying the western ridge. Either I got very lucky, or the northern platoon dropped in SCREEN rather than HOLD orders, negating much of the cover benefit of the town. T-64s won the firefight at around 1800m or so, really at the edge of their effective envelope for this sort of thing.



Also, you may have noticed the lead elements of an infantry company moving up there. Things did not go well for them, which was essential as it both allowed my own infantry occupy the town unopposed and prevented enemy infantry form trying to close with my tanks in the town.



In targeting news, the Hinds did their job. Electronic signature collection complete, the RAG got it's first two full group fire missions. As an in game note, you have to keep your eye open for these as they appear:



Unlike radio traffic, they often blip once and then fall out of view again. In this case I got multiple static blips, so both ADA sites were confirmed and targeted for fire. Not sure where to fall on this one; I'm not enough of an expert in RWRs to know if 1980s era Hind Vs' could really locate radar with precision, or if it would just be a buzzing red light letting the pilot know he was illuminated and some rough type information. I also have questions about the ability to slug that data through to regimental guns...and I don't know if the helicopters would even have the GLONASS systems to use for referencing what they picke dup. In hindsight and review, using this information might have made me a gamey bastard with the technology of the time. Un/fortunately, I had this revelation while writing the post rather than while sending orders.



< Message edited by GloriousRuse -- 11/17/2021 1:27:50 AM >

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Post #: 21
RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/17/2021 11:53:57 AM   
CapnDarwin


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Looks like a ton of fun and hard decisions. Thanks for sharing the AARs!!

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Post #: 22
RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/18/2021 2:35:36 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Always nice to see mod/designer feedback.

0738-0815: In which things get violent/



A lot happened, very quickly. After this chunk, some 137 soviet subunits and 128 BAOR subunits will be out of action, leaving the BAOR at under 50% strength in the space of less than 40 minutes, and the soviet penetration pared back to two companies (which, as we'll see later, is liekly all that saved the BAOR rear area from being immediately overrun). Slightly tangentianlly, in some ways I prefer playing the soviets for the command aesthetic of it - you make your choices and generally the big chunks of the battle play out without any real chance to change it. This was one of those moments.

In the north, two major occurrences. A mixed force of infantry and armor sallied out to meet my oncoming horde, who mostly just happily took up firing positions at the invitation. This did divert some of the tanks headed for the west wood. Generally, even though the superior British soldiers and fire control let them score some kills at distance, the large soviet formations in cover put paid to the BAOR forces.





Two more companies of T-64s crossed the ridge and ran smack into a British tank company and some AT forces trying to deploy onto the ridge. The two sides beat each other into a bloody mess, the British usually getting the first shots and the soviets getting the last ones. The attack here was effectively done form this point on, but it did what it meant to do, kill British and deny the north while the main effort went in further south.

In that direction a reasonable, not perfect, success. Rapid re-adjustments to what appeared to be oncoming British saw companies peeling off early to grab good positions. None the less, one of the lead companies completed its planned turn along the west side of the woods, catching an infantry company on the move and helping put a crossfire on a tank platoon.





That in turn was supported by actions in Schuttorf-Samern which, with the help of an airstrike (the British Rapiers, as expected, died to massed artillery), battered down most of the resistance in the town proper, though still left a couple tank platoons in position to fire on both the town and the southern corridor.



On which note, I made a classic soviet error and sent one tank company to "try something" and see if it could slip around the south. Under continuous fire, even very long range fire, suffice to say it could not. Really, the soviets need to work in mass for anything to work, particularly with less capable units, so this was rather foolish of me.

All of which served to support the one real effort of it all, the penetration:



I had hoped to get at least four reasonably intact companies through here; instead pulling off to deal with other fights and the decision to leave one company securing the bridges meant only two companies were heading onwards. Still enough to cause problems for the British reserves, but not the force I wanted to completely crush the rear areas.

Still, things were looking generally positive. Three of the four BAOR tank companies were badly damaged, as was the AT company and two of three infantry companies. The last infantry company had been spotted moving towards the southern woods, and lost a platoon in the process but was still a threat. Soviet units had mostly reached their objectives and did what they needed to do. The battle seemed to be going well, but between the reserves and ad-hoc reorganization the BAOR still might have some tricks to stave off disaster.

A Special Aside: The LAW Commandos

Remember what I said about British infantry? Here is one squad trying to displace back across a bridge under fire from two battalions and in close contact with a full rifle company. Sounds like they'd be having a bad day? Not if you're this man:





Final kill count before successfully withdrawing across the bridge: 7x BMPs, 2x Tanks, and a rifle squad for the giggles.

Here we have another fine specimen of British soldiery - escaping from the wrecks of their burning vehicles, one last squad runs north into the woods while tanks several hundred meters away fire at them relentlessly.



I'll give you a hint, that tank company started out adjacent to them at full strength. They naturally forgot to bring their swords, a foolish mistake when fighting this man:



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Post #: 23
RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/19/2021 8:47:20 PM   
loki100


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well .. its not actually a Scottish regiment, but given its past formations, guess this bloke could have done some serious damage?






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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/19/2021 10:36:18 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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I was saving him for later. Green jackets and all, I was going to save the best for last.

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/20/2021 3:46:30 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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0816-0856: Penetration vs the Reserve (Also, Richard Sharpe learns to use a LAW)



The majority of the action here was defined by the the results of the two penetration companies converging on the last known HQ point along separate roads. However, the north also saw two British tank platoons destroyed trying to cross the northern ridge.

The rest was mostly desultory firefights and trading of artillery shells.

But, on to the penetration. I, perhaps foolishly, sent one tank company down each major route towards the BAOR rear. I was of the opinion that two comapnies wouldn't force a position, but one might find a hole. As it turned out, the British sent two reserve platoons in each direction as well. The tankers met each other on the move.



What followed was two separate fights. In the east, both sides literally drove into each other along the wooded and light urban B404, prompting a hast exchange of shots that left 5 soviet and 4 British tanks destroyed before each side disappeared around it's respective bend, the soviets heading to pick up a firing position in town and the BAOR headed, well somewhere.

The west was a bit more nuanced. The BAOR stopped in time to try a SCREEN based defense, trying to keep the soviets at range. And for a few tanks this worked, but my tankers finally closed the distance by the expedient of driving right past their burning friends. At that point, only the timely arrival of british artillery firing just at their minimum range saved the the BAOR tankers. Well, tank singular. So over here, 8 T64s for 5 Chieftains.



A partial success. I had not managed to overrun the BAOR's rear, but the engagement had all but destroyed the British reserves before they could commit, which was certainly on the list of objectives. With those conditions set, I released my reserves to complete the penetration and finish the fight. Hopefully.

But, Sharpe

Now, I should have said that was the tactical story. Bernard Cornwell helped write the other major event of the hour.



By now, I knew that the scariest part of this battle had nothing to do with the tanks. I silently hoped my tanks would not fire, maybe letting the potential great danger pass?



Now, now I was horrified. Nothing says the Evil Empire (that's me) is done for more than leaving a lone survivor. Especially not a lone Green Jacket. And most definitely not this man:



He set to work immediately, presumably grabbing every LAW he could from the burning tracks while also finding time to romance one of the locals.









At some point in there, I assume one of his plucky companions hijacked one of my tanks and was only destroyed in a dramatic manner allowing Sharpe and his love interest to escape to the north.

And by escape, I mean swear vengeance on his friend's killer and renew the attack.





And while that's all you see this turn, I can assure you, there is a sequel that follows the same basic plot.

All in good humor here - and really, when you remember this system is more of an illustrative game that required some light simming to make the command pieces work, it can be forgiven - but if the rest of the battle wasn't going so well I might have been more irate.


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Post #: 26
RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/20/2021 10:12:43 AM   
Secret45

 

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Great AAR from you as always. Really was wondering if this Scenario was even winable if playing as the Soviets. Every time I played it, the Soviets rarely made it accross the crossroad.


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Post #: 27
RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/20/2021 11:14:25 AM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Secret45

Great AAR from you as always. Really was wondering if this Scenario was even winable if playing as the Soviets. Every time I played it, the Soviets rarely made it accross the crossroad.




you need the BAOR to make the mistake of going for an early win - that way you get into a series of meeting engagements and can trade at say 1.5:1 (at least till Sean Bean takes a personal interest).

If the BAOR player (& the AI does this) aims for a defensive line, I think they can absorb pretty much anything the Soviets can generate. The trade off in the 2 stances is relatively marginal so in most cases the British can get set up so that the VP are in play and be dug in.

You can do exciting things like counter-attacks later.

I got far too ambitious, if it had worked it would have set up a situation where the Soviets had no secure rear movement space ... as it is I ended up creating a situation where BAOR had no secure movement space

Against a well set British line, I think the only tool you have is the SU-24s, they are near unstoppable given the rapiers so wonder if the solution is an early push, take what you can hold, wait for the airpower (& by the time you get the 3 flights that is a lot of destruction) and then commit your second echelon. I know the British get some Tornados later on but the Soviets get the bulk of the airbased killing power.

Not sure how that sets against the scenario time limit?

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/20/2021 1:57:43 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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After playing this game set, I did try a vs AI run as the soviets. You can win largely because the AI is so slow on the March. By the time the AI BAOR up, you're already set and can murder them from your defensive positions.

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RE: Hell's Crossroads (HvH, mirrored games) - 11/21/2021 5:55:11 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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0932: The End of The Road

For about half an hour, the fight mostly consisted of a handful of long range exchanges, an air strike, some artillery, and me generally failing to get the hinds to shoot anything. The only really significant event was that both sides set their forces in to attack; my reserve tank BN was travelling, and the BAOR patched together a tank company to start moving towards the far western crossroads.

Oh, and of course, our favorite green jacket:



While being shelled by two regimental mortar batteries he killed enough tanks in another company half a KM away that they broke and fled into the open to be killed by tank guns. In fairness to them, the chieftains shooting at them at 700 meters in the open were less pound for pound deadly.

Anyhow, the British counterattack arrived at 0932. The defending company removed its lead echelon in one volley, and that ended the battle.






Soviet Kills


BAOR Kills

So, a tie. Admittedly, I have a hard time seeing it that way with the 12th Armoured more or less destroyed, the soviets holding everything they wanted and having plenty of fresh forces, but that's the algorithmic outcome. Given I have won a "by the points" victory vs the AI, I know its possible, but man the human playing the brits would really have to commit mortal tactical sins for it to happen. Short of the Soviets winning the foot race hands down AND the brits feeding troops doggedly into the blender after that, not many situations come to mind where the soviets could win on points.

More on that later...



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