Monday, 2 November 2015

Team Yankee...

Deja vu all over again!

There is plenty of promotional wind blowing from the direction of Battlefront for their new game Team Yankee.

My bedroom in the 1960s before I discovered girls...
I do find it very strange that a large group of people are exploring something that we all got wrong, completely. As a kid I remember the air raid sirens being tested for the four minute warning and the public information films that scared the crap out of me. There was, of course, nothing else on TV during the day after Playschool! The War Game, a docu drama intended for BBC1, had been banned in the mid-1960s when it came out for fear of damaging national morale and could only be seen in a movie theatre.

The nuclear war stuff seemed to peter out in the 1970s only to be kick-started again by Reagan.  I do recall watching another TV docu drama, Threads, a very convincing story of WW3 and a nuclear attack on the UK (Sheffield actually). That was 1984.

I remember the slew of books that came out in the 1980s about the cold war going hot. I read most of them. My personal favourites, which are still on my shelves, are Red Thrust by Steven Zaloga and First Clash by Kenneth Macksey. There is a great article on Breakthrough Assault giving an overview of these books and others. Well worth reading and I may be tempted to buy into the Harvey Black trilogy....

The book Team Yankee by Harold Coyle came out in 1987. I still have this. Although only slightly better written than a telephone directory, it did have enormous credibility being written by a US officer and being published by top military publisher Praesidio.

The top thing about the book is that it spawned a wargame by GDW....Team Yankee!

As you can see, I have still got this. It is pristine and I have been saving it for a rainy day. The great thing about the game is that it allows you to play out the scenarios from the book. It is tactical level with individual squads, weapons teams and tanks. It represents the pinnacle of cold war US ground forces with Abrams, M113s and TOWs against evil Soviets in T72s and BMP1s (and even BTR60s, I had a few Roco BTRs in the dim and distant). 

The game has got four nice maps. The rule book has also got data for a range of non-US armies including the UK. The actual counters are a bit crap to say the least. Some of the rules are a bit clunky but for someone like me brought up on Panzer Blitz they seemed to be bang on the money. They also included a really good overwatch rule (units taking up firing positions in their own turn to be able to execute opportunity fire in their opponent's). 

I still have the book as well and really do intend to play through the game one day while reading it! Of course, the question is, why haven't I played it before now? The answer is October War. An SPI magazine game from 1977 about the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. It blew apart all previous tactical games for me and I can still recall the massive campaign game I played with my gaming bud in the late 1970s. I eventually won as the Syrians, by a very fine whisker, and I'm not a natural winner either. 

This is a period piece that brings back lots of happy memories. And the most interesting thing is that in 1989 Reagan's policy of spending the Soviets into disaster had succeeded and the evil empire fell apart. Job done against everyone's expectations, including mine. The game went into the cupboard.

Now the evil empire is back again its probably time to dust it off!


Duc de Gobin said...

Wow - great to see this. I've been wondering when someone would show off the 'real' Team Yankee.
Also - that is the first picture of the GDW Team Yankee box that I have ever seen - which lacks signs of batter and wear. Well done for keeping it in good nick :) It's a great game.

October War was the first Hex'n'chit game I ever played in 1980 or so. I do remember its unique alternate turn sequence at the time - groundbreaking then (I hope I'm not thinking about something else).

Old Trousers said...

Hi Duc, Yes, I'm very proud of my box, only a slight ding. This is one of the games I hope to spend much time enjoying when I retire. No doubt battle damage will ensue.

I have seen your post about using miniatures to play this game. I'm thinking that I'd quite like to have a go at the Germans and British vs. the Russians and the most simple way to do that is by using minis.

You are bang on regarding the October War sequence of play. The initiative was random for both fire and movement phases. There was also a great rule covering overruns where if the Israelis were overrunning, they got to fire first by scoring 2-6 on a d6. The Arabs got to fire first on a 1. My Syrian campaign victory depended on me rolling a 1 for virtually the last play of the game. My Spigots took out the last Centurion and that was that! probably the last game I won and that was 1977!