Thursday, February 12, 2009

Owlcon AAR: SP64 Valour on the Bou

Nick Drinkwater

German Player: [ELR 4, SAN 3] Nick Drinkwater
British Player: [ELR 4, SAN 4] John Hyler

A good, solid tourney scenario set in Tunisia in April 1943. Some desperate Irish Guards are holed up on a bare rocky massif and they have to stop a pretty nifty German elite infantry force from having any kind of toe-hold on level 2 or higher hexes on Board 9. This is a very straightforward infantry attack by the Germans with the attraction of having elite forces from both nations going at each other hammer and tongs. The twist in this scenario (which came from the Victoria Cross pack from Schwerpunkt) is the British Hero, representing Guardsman Keneally. In a nice special AAR, he can receive a special -3 DRM if he fires solely a British LMG. Normally with 1FP, you could probably withstand and ignore the effects, even at -1 , but the Germans have to attack over some very open terrain, and that looks a whole lot nastier all of a sudden.

The other kicker in this one is that Board 37 is used with inherent olive groves in effect and this is where the Germans must start their attack from, concealed, before they scale the rocky heights. They also receive a Level 3 overwatch platoon on the southern side of Board 9 which can shoot across a small valley to the Brits entrenched on the south edge of the opposing hilltop. This is good as they may be able to steer routing Brits away from the main assault's overlooking cliff edge towards the NE far side of the big hill. You may even be able to use one of these squads to sneak down to the far east side of the playing area where there are some nice empty hills and claim a cheap win at the death.

The Brits get their usual but a little depleted company of quality sharpshooters, this time coming in the form of the Irish Guards (4-5-8) and they get a very nasty 9-2 to hurt the Germans in this -1 terrain. Ugly. They have a 76*mm Mtr to add weight to the defense as well as a light mortar and a couple of LMGs. In reply, the Germans get a nice gaggle of nine 4-6-8s to play with, a MMG, LMGs and some attitude - they are going to need it to get up that hill!

I focussed most of my attack through the northern part of the olive grove and also try to send a sneak half-squad around the backside (north) of the big British hill, primarily to be annoying to John but also hopefully siphon off a squad from the defense. John has set up hard at the plateau's edge in trenches and sangars and the mortar makes it's presence felt from the level 4 top of the hill, though John has mistakenly mis-placed it onboard in a non-optimum position, (Board 9's castle and building are SSR'ed to crags in this one). Ominously, the one thing that hasn't revealed itself is a mini "?" stack at Level one on the extreme west edge of the victory hill with good commanding views of the lower slopes of the hill and its approaches - wonder what that is?!!

My overwatch and John's overwatch platoons exchanged insults and hand gestures for 2-3 turns ("I sneer in your general direction" etc) but that is about it - John's sangar and trench positions are enough to deflect most of the shots from me and I have crag protection in return - relatively little really happens here.

However, in the main assault, I receive some nice early dice and am able to send John's 9-2 and three squads rolling back across the hill - the only protector of the trench line is the mystery level one stack. To remove this thorn in my side, first I am able to manoeuvre a squad and a half adjacent to him so I am going to get the bugger in CC, come what may. But I also need to use this chance to get up that hill before and take over the recently abandoned British real estate before the 9-2 rallies everyone. So, my brave Germans step off up the hill and John lays down the inevitable hero-directed fire lane. Of the 8 units that broach the corridor of death, 6 pin or break, including my 9-1, but I am able to get 2 squads past him and up the hill ready to advance into the now abandoned British sangar line. Unsurprisingly the hero went down in a flurry of rifle butts and bayonets, but certainly he'd followed the script and done his job.

As only to be expected, the 9-2 swiftly rallied all three of John's broken squads and this formed a very potent counter-attacking force across the top of the plateau, but John was also forced to siphon off a squad to neutralise the threat from my tricky half-squad on the north side of the big cliff. However, the big 9-2 led counter attack and the newly rallied Mortar Squad started to take their toll on my attackers and my force started to attrite and roll backwards again.

In the last movement for me, I needed to counter this - I had a bridgehead, albeit a small one on the main British hill, but I was looking at a lot of last turn moves and attacks to deny me the win and it was looking a bit rocky.

To try and pin down the British overwatch platoon, I sent an overwatch squad down the hill over to the NE to threaten John's back area - these guys broke to a 2 flat long shot. Next, my infiltrating half-squad made a dash for glory to the Brits far rear hill, but they went down in a 4-2 snake eyes shot which must have hurt. Finally, my last two overwatch squads went on desperate runs across their own little valley of death to try and snag some awkward level 2 hexes on the SW corner of the big Brit hill but both pinned one hex short - so infuriating!

So for Brit turn 5, I was left grimly holding on to my small Level 2 and 3 bridgehead on the big hill and that was it. John had to deny me good order status for all my squads there, including a 9-1 and 468 that were out of sight of all the hilltop British units at the bottom of the Level 4 cliff. These guys were protected by a solid ring of outlying German units, one of which would have to be eliminated to provide a gap into which a dashing British unit could gain access to the back line. His best bet for this was to use the 9-2 to carve a hole with a -1 shot through the defenders and then jump into CC with everyone else, but it was not to be as he rolled a 10 on his prep fire roll. He tried some more pot-shots by other units at +1, and I negated the problem of the 76*Mtr as I was inside its minimum range so I was able to hold on for the win.

Nice tight game against a fun opponent and a a quick and quite replayable scenario. John was a little unlucky as he had the cooler dice and my breaking of the British cliff edge line in Turn 2 was critical as it enabled me to get a small foothold on the top of the hill that John was never able to quite remove. Despite the hero's best efforts, that was probably the ultimate factor in winning. I was now 2-1 for Owlcon overall and had played four essentially straight up infantry scenarios in a row. Time for something meatier next.

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