Germans: Scott Bell
Russians: Dan Preston
Dan and I squared off yesterday in what I believe is a relatively new scenario (S 28), which is out of the ASL "Starter Series."
The scenario takes place in Baruth, Germany (April 26, 1945).
It is a battle that is fought in the muddy wetlands, and involves a large German force led by Colonel Hans von Luck, which tries to break out to the West. The Russians 50th Guards Rifle Division stands in the way. It is an interesting mix of tanks, as the Russians have 3 JS-1 tanks which are the weaker armored version of that tank, along with a HIP 122L Artillery piece. The Germans have 4 Panthers and 3 Hetzers. The JS-1 vs. the Panther is a pretty even match. The Hetzers are a little out of place in this scenario, and appear to be more for victory points. As the German, you really have to protect them, because they seriously outgunned. This limits their usefulness. The German Victory conditions center on crossing two (2) game boards to escape off the South edge.
In yesterday's game, Dan played the Russians (on defense), and I played the Germans. What really makes this scenario unique is that all tanks must stay on road or risk immobilization (11 or 12 DR). It is difficult to stay on the road all the time, and when I tried, ever so slightly, to go off-road in order to avoid getting shot at, I managed to immobilize 2 our of 3 of my Panthers that attempted it. Very bad start!
It was immediately apparent to me that I had to stay committed to remaining "only" in road hexes, regardless. Now I was down to 2 Panthers and 3 Hetzers, against 3 JS-1's and the artillery piece. It was also apparent to me that I would have to win this with German infantry, as I would not be able to take full advantage of my tanks capabilities. I made some progress on the attack, yet Dan's collapsible defense worked to perfection, as he traded real estate for time.
It was a very close as we approached the end of the game. At the end of the game, I had two things go my way. One was surviving a street fighting episode as I raced down the road with one of my Panthers, and took a key fire position down a long road towards one of my exit hexes. Secondly, I managed to score a "critical hit" against Dan's HIP artillery piece that turned to fire at my tank, which killed his crew and destroyed his gun. Unfortunately, we had already played about 8 hours and had to "call it" before it was completely over. I would say that the game was really up in the air at the end. I had made good progress with my infantry, however, I was in a position to where I was going to have to cross some open ground to exit, and though Dan's Russians were reduced, they were not dead. I was not doing real well on my morale checks either, so it was far from conclusive as to whether I would have made it off the board without breaking, had time permitted.
I have dubbed Dan the "Minister of Defense," as he once again did not disappoint with his defensive game plan. It was very challenging, and his ability on defense to collapse and trade land for time, is among the best I have seen among our club membership. I also congratulate Dan on the judicious use of his tanks. He kept them far enough forward to delay my advance, but not forward enough to take 1945 Panzerfaust shots. Well played, indeed.
While I would not characterize this style of scenario as one of my favorites, I enjoyed its "unique" aspects. Being confined to roads definitely limited what I could do offensively, but it presented unique challenges. In summary, it was kind of fun to do something a little different.
Finally, I thank both Bill Zopff and Dan Preston for the two (2) ASL games that I got in over the Christmas Holidays. That made it a very "Merry Christmas" for me.
I absolutely love this game! (Sorry NBA)