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FULDA GAP ’86: IRON BEASTS AT THE GATES - Author’s Forward and Introduction


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FULDA GAP ’86: IRON BEASTS AT THE GATES - Author’s Forward and Introduction
A home-brewed campaign designed by James Billingham and play-tested by RCDD (Rose City Dukes and Duchesses FOW Ranger Group), June 8, 2017

Author’s Forward

Why play Team Yankee?
If you were there, in Germany in the 1970’s or 80’s, you often wondered what might have happened.
If you were in the Gulf Wars, you can see the tactics and weapons in the 80's that made the battles of the 90's so successful.
If you were in neither position, it is still a fun game and chance to ponder "what if?"

In 1981, I joined the Army. At the Intelligence School, we studied the Soviet Red Army and a projected future attack in Central Europe. My first unit, 1st Cavalry Division, deployed to Germany in REFORGER 83. We were part of several larger exercises with the Dutch and British armies: AUTUMN FORGE 83 and ATLANTIC LION. We trained to counterattack a major Warsaw Pact offensive in Northern Germany, close to the area of the ground battle in the Clancy novel "Red Storm Rising".

In 1985, I was stationed in Germany with the V (US) Corps. The Corps had the mission of defending the Fulda Gap and securing the river crossings on the Main and Rhine Rivers in and around Frankfurt am Main. This area, and the region east and northeast of it, are the probable settings for the battles in the “Team Yankee” book.
When Harold Coyle's novel “Team Yankee” first came out, I was not aware of it. But later, when I did read the book, it was Déjà vu for me. It transported me back to the time when I lived and trained in armored vehicles. It brought back memories of the "oh-dark-thirty" alerts in Germany, preparing for World War III. We expected hordes of tanks, waves of planes and raining missiles to threaten us with extinction.

I am grateful that the "Red Wave" never came. But now, years later and many miles away, in the comforts of our armchairs and the relative safety of our gaming tables, we can think, talk and game “what if?” The Team Yankee rules set and models make it possible to play out the various threads of those alternate history scenarios. Team Yankee explores the possibilities of a clash between NATO and Warsaw Pact armies.

Team Yankee, the book, is a novel written by Harold Coyle in 1987 about a fictitious Soviet attack into Germany from the perspective of Captain Bannon. He commands Team Yankee, an Armor-Combat Team in the US Army. It has been revised and re-released in hardcover and Kindle formats in 2016.

Team Yankee, the game, with its expanding line of forces, models and handbooks, provides us with great gaming and modeling opportunities.

The next adventure of our local gaming group - RCDD (short acronym for the Rose City Dukes and Duchesses FOW Ranger Group) - will be an Escalation League and Campaign in the "Team Yankee alternate 'verse": "Fulda Gap '86: Iron Beasts at the Gates".

This campaign is a home-brew creation of ‘barca’ and RCDD, and is not sponsored nor endorsed by Battlefront Miniatures, LTD.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ‘barca’, a.k.a. James Billingham


The Rose City Dukes and Duchesses are using Battlefront’s Team Yankee Rules and models to play out the tactical games in this campaign. But you can easily adapt this campaign for any set of rules and scale of miniatures that cover post-WWII combat on the tabletop.

What you should NOT do is approach this as a board wargame. It was never designed with that in mind. It might work for that, but there are probably better options out there, produced at higher levels of quality.

“Fulda Gap ‘86” is a first rough cut of an experiment to develop and playtest a lightweight campaign system to give context and flavor to “Cold-War-Gone-Hot” miniatures battles.

The audience for this version of the campaign is a loosely connected group of wargamers who gather in pairs and clusters across a the “Pacific Northwest” to fight out miniature battles, in the context of a larger campaign. We communicate mostly via an online forum ( www.ordofanaticus.com ) and a blog. Our previous online campaigns have engaged 7-12 people. We expect to maintain that level, maybe even expand a bit, but we could accommodate up to 24 people simultaneously.

Although “Fulda Gap ‘86” has some elements in common with Battlefront’s Firestorm campaign system, this particular campaign is not exactly a “Firestorm system.” It lacks some of the order-of-battle specificity that you would normally see in the other campaigns. On the other hand, a lot of innovative ideas are added.

This campaign is currently designed for an Escalation League. Our group is just starting out in the “Team Yankee universe” (or “alt-erverse”), so our commanders begin with small forces (usually tanks and infantry) and not a lot of supporting weapons. Therefore, in the spirit of an escalation league, the specification of points, army lists and “COMBAT SUPPORT UNITS” is intended to be loose and gives the “Tactical Commanders” a fair amount of discretion and interpretation in setting up and playing out their battles.

To that end, we have also relaxed the Team Yankee limitations on allies so that small forces of different nationalities, but in the same faction, can combine to have a “decent sized” force on the table.

My cardinal rules for designing this campaign were:
1. Stay focused on the target audience
2. Keep in mind the purpose of the campaign: To fight fun and interesting miniature battles.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Only have elements that contribute to engaging tabletop battles.
5. Provide a sense that each commander is part of a larger team (Generals and narrative).

Keeping that perspective, many potential units, events and rules mechanics were left out. In some cases, the Team Yankee ruleset does not cover them, and in other cases, their effects on the tabletop battle can be abstracted without adding a lot of complexity and detail.

We hope that you try it out, have fun and give us feedback.
- barca and
- the Rose City Dukes and Duchess FOW Ranger Group

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