Red Leopard I

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1st Red Leopard Online Campaign - 2010

The Red Leopard I campaign began on 22 January 2010 and concluded on 2 April 2010. The campaign was designed by Tarball and Volcano.

Red Leopard Cover.PNG


What follows is some background and context information meant to document how the campaign came about and demonstrate the thought processes involved.


The Red Leopard online campaign began, as many have, as an idea tossed around within the community concerning the ability (or lack thereof) to play in Warsaw Pact OPFOR equipment in a central Europe setting. As those discussions kicked around, the genesis for the Red Leopard began with discussion arising from Tacbat's 1st Operation Variable (2009) online campaign. As that campaign concluded in a stalemate across a river with RED and BLUE operating nearly-matched western equipment, thoughts returned to the desire for a campaign where superior western equipment faced "hordes" of Warsaw Pact Equipment in what would have been a more believable deployment of modern western equipment in the 1980s and beyond. Community members Volcano, Tarball, Dark Angel, Mogwa, Tacbat, Sean, and Rogue Snake were those who principally contributed to the discussions that brought about Red Leopard I. In late 2009, Volcano and Tarball set about putting the details together for what would become Red Leopard I. While Tarball mainly selected the terrain, planned the units, and the campaign objectives, both Volcano and Tarball worked on the Order of Battle, the general premise, and outline of the campaign.

Imagine Harder: Using the Leopard AS1

While the premise of the campaign - stop the Red Hordes as they race across the plains of North-Central Europe (Germany) - was fairly evident, a timeless problem and quirk of SteelBeasts (Pro PE and otherwise) quickly arose: what about playable OPFOR armor? While Tarball had earlier coined the term "Head to Red" as a concept whereupon a few humans controlled non-playable OPFOR equipment against other human BLUEFOR players, we needed REDFOR players to be able to operate the main gun of at least the MBT for RED. While the idea of using the Leopard I as a stand in for a T-72 (or earlier) wasn't entirely new, the utilization of this substitute quickly gelled as a central theme for the Red Leopard campaign.

The quip:

"If you just squint your eyes and IMAGINE, you could believe that the Leopard I was a stand in for the T-72 MBT"

was an initial premise when the campaign design principals first put the call out for participation. Of course there was natural, and valid, skepticism regarding our substitute, but the campaign designers wanted the idea to take wing, so the typical response during the lead-in to the campaign was:

"Imagine Harder..."

At the time, and in response to a fairly constant demand for a playable T-72 in SB Pro PE, eSimGames had suggested that we use the Leo I as it would be an acceptable substitute in the meantime. Thus, the skepticism regarding the use of the Leo I was presaged by general displeasure on the unavailability of a "proper" OPFOR MBT. In this case, we were out to test the Leo-AS1-as-T72M1 premise as a key concern of the campaign. Thus, with some consultation between the design principals for the campaign, Volcano and Tarball, the following assumptions and factors promulgated the design of the campaign:

  • Superior ammo for RED’s Leo AS1s and inferior ammo for BLUE’s MBTs
  • Force ratio is 3:1 in RED’s favor
  • Fixed reinforcement schedule for BLUE with some performance-based incentives for additional forces
  • Diminishing reinforcement schedule for RED

Structure of the Campaign - Rules

The rules for the campaign can be reviewed in this document: Red Leopard I Campaign Rules

Map and Map Overview

Given the limitations of SB Pro PE, with respect to the ability to import new height map areas, the design team had to select from four areas in Germany for the campaign. In the end, the Hannover height map and terrain map were selected. Fortunately, community member Manteuffel had uploaded some significant improvements to the terrain map and these were used for the Red Leopard I campaign - thank you again Manteuffel.

You can view the campaign area in Google Earth using the following KML file: Red Leopard Google Maps Overview

just double-click on the file and Google Earth should open up and translate to the campaign area.

The image below shows the area. From right to left, you can see the area for the planned first five missions as red rectangles. The red rectangles are 20km wide and 12km high and represent the four corners of each battle map. The last mission was fought just east of Minden, but does not appear on the map.

(52.181944; 9.280833)

Red Leopard I Map Overview.PNG

The terrain was a reasonable choice as it contained a variety of environments. However, as the area is hilly, battlefield maneuver was greatly influenced by the presence of this terrain. In fact, the hills completely dominated tactics to the chagrin of players on both sides.

After Action Reviews

While there were six missions played in the campaign, details on the last mission are not available at this time. However, details and observations of the first five missions are presented here.

Some quick observations:

  • RED membership was stable, yet sparse, and consisted of: Volcano (CO), Tarball, DarkAngel, Mogwa, GaryOwen, and Sean. At a later point, Panzer also joined in on RED. Not all of the RED players made every mission, but this force was fairly consistent in purpose and design throughout the campaign.
  • The campaign ran consecutively and weekly for the first 4 weeks, with mission 5 coming a month later, and then the last mission occurred three weeks later in early April 2010.
  • Tacbat provided ample leadership for BLUE but his week-on-week membership was less consistent. As various players had time conflicts, and some had fundamental problems with the premise and structure of the campaign, Tacbat still performed admirably given the turnover in his human players.
  • RED at first, and then later BLUE, did not like the "mountain fighting" that the campaign naturally devolved towards. As it was nearly impossible for RED to fight BLUE out in the open, survival meant going to ground where BLUE's range advantage was nullified. However, the heavily forested hills were not always a blessing to RED and RED met with high causalities in the woods in the early battles.
  • Given the forest/hill situation, the RED tide and steamroller envisioned for the campaign did not develop; out in the open, RED would have been consistently slaughtered.
  • BLUE developed some very effective tactics in the first 3 missions but then turned to force preservation for the balance of the campaign after mission 3.
  • The sheer volume of units on RED allowed the campaign to progress in the first few missions despite losses. In this sense, the theory that massive numbers can prevail was somewhat sustained. This was by no means a perfect test of this assertion.

Red Leopard Mission 01: Fought January 22nd, 2010

Red Leopard I Mission 1 Map Overview.PNG

As would be predicted, RED took heavy blows on this mission as they tried to reach the western map edge by way of hills.

quick stats from mission 1
Side MBTs lost APCs lost
BLUE 6 0
RED 35 8

Outcome: BLUE tactical victory, but RED does meet its map objective goals sufficiently (penetrates up to or slightly beyond the "50 yard line" on the battle map)

Scenario File: Red Leopard Campaign - Mission 01

AAR HTML file (from Sean - Server): Red Leopard Campaign - Mission 01 (HTML AAR)

AAR file (from Tarball - Client): Red Leopard Campaign - Mission 01 (SB Pro PE AAR)

Red Leopard Mission 02: Fought January 29th, 2010

(52.1725; 9.562222)

Red Leopard I Mission 2 Map Overview.PNG

Again, RED took heavy losses whilst trying to exit the hills from the previous mission. It is hard to characterize this battle as anything other than a BLUE win. There was an interesting "Kill Sack" situation in the south where RED armor and PCs continually entered into an ambush area, creating heavy losses.

quick stats from mission 2
Side MBTs lost APCs lost
BLUE 9 0
RED 56 11

Outcome: BLUE victory. RED makes modest progress on map objective goals, but not in a decisive manner.

Scenario File: Red Leopard Campaign - Mission 02

AAR HTML file (from Sean - Server): Red Leopard Campaign - Mission 02 (HTML AAR)

AAR file (from Client): file needed

Red Leopard Mission 03: Fought February 5th, 2010

(52.143611; 9.481944)

Red Leopard I Mission 3 Map Overview.PNG

RED made a good breakout on this mission and took fewer losses. RED's map objectives were completely and decisively met. This mission was the first real success for RED and likely kept RED in the fight until the end. It was also during this mission that the "hill fighting" shifted from a liability to an asset for RED. RED's breakthrough came in the extreme northwest corner of the map and influenced RED's advanced for all subsequent missions.

quick stats from mission 3
Side MBTs lost APCs lost
BLUE 8 5
RED 12 8

Outcome: RED victory. RED makes a breakthrough on map objective goals in a decisive manner and sustains parity losses with BLUE.

Scenario File: Red Leopard Campaign - Mission 03

AAR HTML file (from Sean - Server): Red Leopard Campaign - Mission 03 (HTML AAR)

AAR file (Client): File needed

Red Leopard Mission 04: Fought February 12th, 2010

(52.1975; 9.336389)

Red Leopard I Mission 4 Map Overview.PNG

Mixed results with lots of close-in "knife fighting" in the hills. Many devastating engagements for RED where heavy losses were taken. Map progress for RED was good as BLUE gave ground in order to preserve fighting forces. This type of fighting would dominate until the last mission of the campaign.

quick stats from mission 4
Side MBTs lost APCs lost
BLUE 27 9
RED 73 22

Outcome: Draw with BLUE having a slight tactical advantage. Both BLUE and RED had devastating MBT losses.

Scenario File: Red Leopard Campaign - Mission 04

AAR HTML file (from Sean - Server): Red Leopard Campaign - Mission 04 (HTML AAR)

AAR file (Client): File needed

Red Leopard Mission 05: Fought March 12th, 2010

(52.250833; 52.250833)

Red Leopard I Mission 5 Map Overview.PNG

Better synopsis needed. This battle likely ended early in a BLUE attempt to preserve forces. Another extensive hill and forest fight with lots of close-in "knife fighting." Decidedly not suitable for tanks. Both RED and BLUE both suffered heavily from attrition by this stage.

quick stats from mission 5
Side MBTs lost APCs lost
BLUE 11 7
RED 24 26

Outcome: More info needed. Likely an early BLUE retreat to preserve forces for a final battle.

Scenario File: Red Leopard Campaign - Mission 05

AAR HTML file (from Sean - Server): File needed

AAR file (Client): File needed

Red Leopard Mission 06: Not played

This mission was waived by BLUE in preference for settling the campaign, in Mission 07, at RED's intended LOA in the Minden area. RED reaching their LOA constituted a Campaign Victory Condition.

Red Leopard Mission 07 (Finale): Fought April 2nd, 2010

Coordinates are approximate

(52.283333; 8.916667)

Mission map is approximate

Red Leopard I Mission 7 Map Overview.PNG

Red pushed forward sparing no expense (see losses) towards Minden (along the north of the wooded area that runs along the map) and towards Porta Westfalica (along the south of the same wooded area). The push towards Minden, consisting of at least one battalion, was stopped at the river south of Minden. The wooded area in between Minden and Bueckeburg was the scene of some fierce fighting, and was the place where Red in that sector suffered the most attrition.

The advance to Porta Westfalica saw heavy fighting in the urban area of said town. Blue vehicles and infantry were holding the area well, but over two Red battalions made the push through to the river and in the end all opposition was eliminated there. With time running out on the last scenario, Red crossed the river at a bridge at Porta Westfalica. On the other side, a blocking force headed north to secure the flank, while the remainder of the crossing units moved west along the north side of the river, just south of the wooded area that runs along the center of the map. Blue sent all units it could spare to the hill that runs along the wooded area and succeeded in knocking out some red vehicles as the latter tried to get off the map edge. Red Hind helicopters were finally committed to the fight, knocking out several Blue tanks on that ridge.

quick stats from mission 7
Side MBTs lost APCs lost
BLUE 16 19
RED 60 36

Outcome: In the end several Red tanks got off the map edge but the scenario did not end immediately and the tanks were sitting ducks there and eventually destroyed, thus preventing the end if... event from occurring (since it, presumably, counted living units in the breakthrough zone). This caused some confusion as to what the final result of the campaign was, but it was decided that Red broke through with enough tanks and thus won the campaign, but Blue dealt serious losses on Red in the process. Since the scenario did not end by an event, and because of the heavy fighting to the last minute from the first mission to seventh, and because of the heavy losses incurred getting to the breakthrough in Mission 7, it was felt, by the Red CO, that the result was more of a draw than a Red victory.

Scenario File: Red Leopard Campaign - Mission 07 (most likely NOT the final scenario used that night - see Sean, Volcano, or Tacbat for the file)

AAR HTML file (from Sean - Server): File needed

AAR file (Client): File needed

Campaign Result and Post Mortem

Narrow Red Victory, or perhaps even a draw according to RED CO.

The amount of heavy attrition proves that conventional armed struggle would have likely devolved quickly into theater-level nuclear weapons possibly being used. In Red Leopard I, despite RED's attempt to flow around BLUE "like water," RED sustained staggering losses, despite gaining ground. Since Red Leopard would have likely transpired over a 24-72 hour timeframe in reality, it is hard to imaging that such a push would be truly sustainable. In fact, it may not have been the case that RED would have pressed in this sector at all given these losses. At the Brigade level, and higher, RED may have just steered around this engagement.

Post Mortem Analysis

Some detail from the Blue POV is needed.

Quick Thoughts

Campaign creator (Tarball):

  • Fighting in heavily forested hills is not a likely scenario for heavy armor (maneuver is obviously very limited)
  • Campaign rules are probably not solid until the END of the campaign, despite any efforts to forestall problems. Thus, as would be expected in science, engineering, and software: the experiment/design should be re-designed and re-run given the knowledge learned from the prototype stage.
  • The force ratios and reinforcement rates probably need to be revisited and tweaked
  • The LeoAS1 is NOT at all a substitute for the T-72
  • Blue is difficult to run when personnel are not consistent
  • The campaign master/coordinator should probably NOT be a combatant on either side

CO Red and campaign co-creator (Volcano):

  • Campaigns with a finite number of "rounds" for one side to get to an objective are very tricky and difficult to balance. The initial approach should probably be to have the defending side weak, slowly building up in intensity, but Red Leopard worked out as it was because of a shift in Red tactics to adapt to the stress being placed upon it (see below), which consequently was not popular with Blue because Red seemed to be avoiding a "fair fight". This of course was because, even with great numbers, a "fair fight" did not really exist between the match up of LeoAS1 versus cutting edge 21st century vehicles (more about this below).
  • In a campaign where one side must get to a certain point by the end of a finite number rounds, the path to take the attacking/advancing side to that point should probably be as straight of a line as possible.
  • Red tactics shifted to complete avoidance of any sort of ranged engagements at all costs, instead choosing to use cover to get in close. This is not unreasonable, since OPFOR's actual tactic is to avoid resistance.
  • Blue could (and did) counter Red's shift in tactics by fortifying the covered and concealed routes, but this was only did this near the end of the campaign, which was probably too late. Once Blue shifted their tactics, they again made it very difficult for Red to continue the advance. However, Red's necessitated "going to ground" tactic was not popular.
  • (opinion)The LeoAS1 would barely work as a substitute for the T-72 if, and only if, Blue has early 1980s technology. In Red Leopard I, the LeoAS1 fared abysmally against 1990-2010 Blue equipment - necessitating a nearly completely avoidance of combat as much as possible (mentioned above). An idea for a more balanced match up would be:

Blue: M1(A0) w/M735A1 and M456A2 ammo; M2A2 with no LRF (to represent mid 80s Bradley) w/M791 and M792 ammo with regular TOW-2 (1983); M113A3s; M901 ITV for ATGM asset; Leo2A4 w/DM33 and DM12A1 ammo; Marder 1A3 (non-playable); Jaguar 1A3 for ATGM asset; M60A3 (non-playable) could also be used for support for the US side, with HMMWVs and ASLAV-25 (Spahpanzer Luchs) for reconnaissance.

Red: Leopard AS1 w/PPTFS DM 63C LS ammo; BMP-2; BRDM-2 AT; and BRDM-2 for reconnaissance.

Obviously, the best substitute to represent the T-72 would be an actual T-72, preferably the T-72B in the above match up.

Note: The M1(A0), M113A3, M60A3 were not available in SB at the time that Red Leopard I was played.

  • Regardless of the official result, the fighting in Red Leopard I was very bloody and intense. By the end of the campaign, the result felt like it was a good hard fought draw, that is, after Red suffered great defeats initially, adjusted tactics, then fought to the line at the end. It was an enjoyable campaign.
  • As Tarball mentioned, the creator and co-creator should, ideally, not participate in the actual fighting and should instead be observers. However, given the limited amount of players in the community and the large amount of units that are present in a campaign, and the fact that everyone wants to participate, another almost ideal solution is to have the campaign creator and co-creator on opposite sides, and not in overall command roles. Then, once a week, both the creator and co-creator meet to discuss tweaking issues and possible rule adjustments with both bringing the perspective of both sides to the discussion. Then, after discussion, only the issues in which both the creator and co-creator are in agreement on are changed. This would ensure impartial judgment, and cause changes that are made to be more acceptable by others since said changes require full agreement by both creators. Having both the creator and co-creator participate in the campaign on the same side should be avoided at all costs, since it makes any favorable change to the side that both are participating on appear as if the changes were made out of bias.
  • The campaign proved that any future campaign should, if possible, have two people running it -- the game master/creator/coordinator and co-game master/co-creator/co-coordinator and, as mentioned above, they should be on opposite sides. These would act as opposing forces to each other, bringing the different perspective of each side to the table for discussion behind the scenes. With one person running a campaign, it becomes very difficult to make rulings and decisions without seeming biased to one side or the other. The two coordinators should act as advisers to their respective sides, and could participate, albeit in a secondary command role or as a company commander or platoon leader.


The following awards were made so that individuals can display them in their forum signatures if they so desire. They are simply for fun, for a bit of nostalgia in remembering the campaign. The only requirement is that you abide by the forum rules on signature sizes (400 x 60 maximum), and that you are honest to those when choosing to display them.

Participation Award

All those who participated in the Red Leopard I campaign may, in good faith, display the following ribbon in their signature if they so desire.

RedLeopard ribbon.png