Friday, May 22, 2009

AAR: DB066 WN63

Zeb Doyle

Americans: Zeb Doyle
Germans: Bryan Register

Wednesday was a good day for me. I got in a super-rare Bryan Register sighting and played some fun ASL with him too. The scenario was from the Dispatches from the Bunker boys, DB066 WN63, and features a company of GIs just off Omaha Beach storming a German strongpoint nestled down in a small French village. Given the years of time and conscripted labor available it's not much of an fortress, with only a few mines, trenches, and wire to work with, but there might be just enough there to keep the Americans out. Bryan wanted the challenge and swiftly put together a solid-looking set-up with no obvious weak spots. It was now up to my 90-day wonders to storm the village and render Europe once again safe for democracy.

The battle takes place on the SK board Y, which I feel offers quite a challenge for any attacker, as there aren't many high-speed approaches to the village that also offer any cover. Since I was also working with 6ML, ELR 3 Americans, the first phase of the game consisted of me throwing lots of smoke grenades, pushing forward a bit, having a lot of my troops break, and then trying to punish Bryan's landsers with Assault Fire. This didn't go as well as I would have liked, with two 4-6-7s shrugging off a 30+4 attack and then returning fire at a 6-6-7/MMG and getting a KIA. Still, I had the advantage of numbers, firepower, and lots of good smoke grenade rolls, and ended up slowly pushing back the first line of defense.

That gave me access to the tree-line next to the village, but Bryan was ready for that too, with a 50mm MTR and a 50L ATG both in great spots. A CH from the MTR and a great boresighted hex for the gun cost me some more time and troops in the middle, and I was forced to try and work around the flanks instead. I made some progress there, but then disaster struck: I rolled snakes for the WC and created a Mild Breeze. Not so bad, but in Bryan's RPh he also rolled snakes and shifted the wind so it was blowing directly into the face of my GIs. Since you can't throw smoke grenades upwind, that neutralized about 95% of my smoke capability and left me baffled on how to cross the bit of open ground between my men and the village.

At this point, I decided to reinforce my success on the flanks since nothing else was working. I'd captured a few German squads and killed a few more in CC, but Bryan's stubborn defense (especially that nasty MTR!) had caused me more losses than I'd inflicted and the clock was ticking. You can imagine my joy and excitement when both of my lead flanking squads ran into minefields and broke. Hmmm...apparently that Atlantic Wall actually was a bit more than a propaganda exercise. To make things even more interesting and annoying, Bryan had suckered me on the right flank by leaving a real squad in the minefield. When my 6-6-6 advanced in for CC, he ended up as a broken unit in Melee and now I was faced with losing yet another unit with nothing to show for it.

I caught a break in the CC phase when Bryan's 4-4-7 only managed to CR my squad. That saved some adjacent Americans from eating 8+0 shots and allowed Mother Green and her killing machine to get to work. A 30+3 was fired into the Melee and my broken HS rolled snakes to rally and become a 3-4-7. What a big break! At least until Bryan also rolled snakes and created a hero. What was it with these linked snake-eyes that kept hosing me? Bryan, ever the sportsman, stopped his celebration just long enough to remind me that I got a sniper out of his snakes. Well, in one of those 'only in ASL' twists of fate, the sniper drilled a bullet right between the eyes of Bryan's best leader. The 9-1 died instantly, and the 4-6-7/HMG he was stacked with broke on the LLMC. That left one of the two VC areas devoid of good order Germans, took Bryan's best weapon out of the game, and instantly swung things completely around in my favor.

There was still the 50L covering that right flank and keeping me out of the village VC area, but when my first 6-6-6 made a run for it and survived a 1MC, Bryan was suddenly in real trouble. He managed to get another leader back to try and rally the HMG squad, but I was able to keep the brokie constantly under DM and move even more GIs into the area. With the defense now unhinged, Bryan needed a good roll or two to get back in it and it just didn't happen. We packed it in on turn six with a solid American win, but also with the realization that if the sniper didn't get the 9-1 like he did and the 6-6-6 didn't pass the 1MC, the Americans probably lose. That seemed reasonable enough, given how badly Bryan had punished me in the first few turns and how helpless those 6-6-6s are without smoke.

Overall, I liked the scenario quite a bit for what it was: a small, all-infantry fight with a gun and a few fortifications thrown in for spice. As we found out, it's small enough that a few bad rolls can make it very hard for a given side, but that's the nature of the beast. I'd certainly play it again in a tournament setting and not worry too much about it. Other things I liked about it: it's a great training venue for learning how to use Americans. The terrain really lets you use smoke grenades and assault fire to good effect, and the 6ML and 3 ELR will punish mistakes. It also did a nice job of simulating a bunch of Americans just off the boat and fresh to fighting. There were enough fortifications there to play a role in the fighting, and Bryan did a great job with those, but not so many that you'd feel like it was an assault on the Maginot line.

The only other comment I'll make is regarding the VC, which read that the Germans must keep a good order MMC within two hexes of Y-J4 and Y-N6. It seems quite clear that the Germans have to have two good order MMC out there at game end, but I've read at least one other AAR saying "the Germans can win it at game end with a single HS!" My gut feeling is that forcing the Americans to clear both VC areas makes it pretty tough on them, so play it right and don't misinterpret the quite clear VC!

Thanks for reading, thanks to Bryan for a very fun game (I'm glad the statutes of limitations finally expired and you're allowed back within the Texas state borders), and thanks to the Bunker guys for all their work,


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