Sunday, October 18, 2009

AAR: DB76 Out of the Shadows

Scott Bell

Americans: Scott Bell
Germans: Hondo Nelson

Yesterday (Saturday) at San Antonio ASL day, Hondo and I had a chance to square off in a "new" scenario from "Dispatches from the Bunker." It was the first time we have had a chance to play against each other, and it was nice to play something that few if any players have played yet. This scenario just came out.

"Out of the Shadows" is a scenario set in Allan, France (August 27th) 1944. The Americans are composed of the 3rd Infantry Division along with support of Company B (Tank and Tank Destroyer Battalions). The Germans have the 11th "Ghost" Panzer Division along with Grenadier Regiment 757 and Grenadier Division 338.

This battle takes place on board 53, where the Americans are defending large buildings in a congested town. The Americans can also win by exiting > or = to 16 VP's off the north edge of the building. Absent poor planning on the part of the Germans, the American exit strategy is probably unlikely, so the battle comes down to control of victory buildings or the Germans earning > or = to 35 CVP by games end.

In this battle, the Americans, who initially control the town, strategically engage in a fighting withdrawal that is timed in order for them to maintain control of the majority of the buildings within the town at games end. I was the Americans in this scenario. I started out the battle with a 9-2 leader in a 2nd story building, a 6-6-7 squad, along with a MMG. Unfortunately for me, one of Hondo's Marder tanks quickly and improbably locked onto the building I was in (long distance), and broke me after the 1st turn. This prevented me from whittling down Hondo's forces as they approached the town. I was able to strategically organize my forces to where I gradually fell back into what might be described as a "slice of pie" defensive line. The long lines of the pie slice that met at a point, were roads, which I controlled effectively with MG fire. I controlled one major line with a squad and a MMG (fire lane). The other I controlled with MMG fire from my 9-2 leader and a 6-6-7, who had previously broken but were now rallied, along with tank support.

At the mid point of the game, I appeared to be in control. Hondo was unable to breach my defensive line which was quite strong. At turn 5, I had broken much of the German infantry, and had seized the initiative to where I was somewhat on the offensive. One could probably make an argument that I should have stayed put, but my defensive attack against Hondo's infantry had gone well, and I did not want to let him regroup; therefore I went after the wounded prey. THEN IT HAPPENED TO ME.......

This game "in the form of some critical dice rolls" had one of the most spectacular reversals in fortune that I have ever been a part of. The reversal involved the battle of our tanks. In the armor engagement, I had one (1) Sherman tank and three (3) M-10 TD. Hondo had one (1) Panther and two (2) Marders.

During the key tank engagement, I had managed to gang up with my Sherman and two (2) of my M-10's against the Panther tank. That was the good news (for me). The bad news was that due to the congested terrain of buildings and fire that had spread, along with his PF equipped infantry, I was only able to get front shots on his "in motion" Panther. I kept getting hits on the Panther with APCR (which I amazingly kept), but could not knock it out. I then switched my strategy to an effort to immobilize it, but could not get the required rolls to do that either. Hondo was feeling the heat, and realizing that I would eventually be successful, brought a Marder into the battle, in an attempt to draw fire away from the Panther. My Sherman tank pivoted, missing during Defensive Fire, and destroyed the tank on my next PFPh. Now I was really feeling good. I felt like I was in complete control of the infantry battle, and appeared to be improving my situation with my tanks as well.

Quite suddenly, my fortunes changed. It began when Hondo "killed" my 9-2 leader with a sniper shot. He followed this with an unlikely 4 hex away AFPh shot by a German Squad with a Panzerschreck, against my Sherman tank. Hondo needed a "snake eyes" to hit, and that is what he got. One Sherman destroyed. Next, the "in-motion" Panther took a shot at my M-10. Hondo rolled 3 dice, and got "triple snakes." One M-10 destroyed. Hondo smiled at his fortune, and said he was "going for it." He was "feelin" it, and he was on fiyaaa. The Panther took an "Intensive Fire" shot with 3 dice. The dice came up as 1, 1, & 3. A second M-10 destroyed. In the course of one turn, I had lost 3 tanks and my 9-2 leader. My misfortune was not over.

Now we switch to the infantry battle, where I had previously seemed to be in complete control. Earlier, I had advanced several American squads into the hex with the Panther as part of my combined arms attack which was designed to ensure that I would get the Panther. I forgot about the Sn, which I now call the "Fritz." I have only faced this defensive tank weapon probably on 2 other occasions, and I should have remembered it since it was devastatingly effective both times. I got "fritzed." The weapon broke my entire stack, and Hondo effectively closed in with nearby German infantry to finish the job.

I was in trouble now. I had complete control of the victory buildings, but my losses of tanks had now put me in a position to where Hondo could win by CVP's. Hondo had secured 21 CVP's in that one turn with just the 3 tanks kills, alone! I immediately began to retreat towards my defensive lines to try and stem further losses. This scenario would now clearly come down to CVP's. Hondo became the hunter, and I became the hunted. The Panther ruled the battlefield, and I was in full retreat with no answer for that tank. The "only" friend I had at this point was time. I had a remaining strong stack of troops which had stayed with one of my leaders in the course of falling back. I made an unintentional error of leaving them stacked (I forgot to spread out during the Advance Phase) and Hondo moved his Panther into my hex to freeze me, while his weakened but still viable German troops closed in for support. I managed to "immobilize" the Panther and knock it out in close combat (finally), and barely held on in close combat against the German infantry as the game ended. We were still engaged in CC when the game ended.

I had just managed to squeak out a "win" by only 3 CVPs. That was an amazing turnaround for a game that prior to turn 5; I had seemed to be in control.

This scenario was a lot of fun, and I would recommend it to those who are looking for something interesting to play. It is found in the newest "Dispatches from the Bunker" (No. 29, I believe). It is Scenario # DBO76. It was a good match-up for Hondo and I; who have styles of play that are somewhat similar with regards to aggressive play. Hondo played a very good game, especially at the end when it mattered most. He was aggressive when he needed to be, and just "barely" came up short. The Panther tank was amazing in this scenario. I delayed engagement with it as long as possible, and when I did finally engage with it, I did so with numerical superiority that included a 3-1 advantage in tanks, with engineers and a hero with a bazooka in support. The Panther tank fought back with defiance and determination, and it was amazing for both of us to watch. The Panther fought heroically, and its story would seem to be consistent with some of the great individual heroic actions of WWII that we have all read about. It was a pleasure to watch, even though I was on the wrong end of that "beatin' stick."

I would like to thank Hondo for the excellent game, and I look forward to playing him again, soon. I hope you enjoyed reading this, just as I enjoyed reliving it via this review. This game is one that I will not soon forget.

On a final note, I am eligible to "retire" from SAPD in 4 days. I will not be leaving immediately, though I do expect to "wrap up" my career in the next couple of years, which I'll work in order to supplement my annual pension payout during retirement. I mention this, because I look forward to playing a lot more ASL in retirement. I am planning upon doing a lot of traveling in retirement, which will include traveling to play ASL across the country, and across the world. I am very excited about that, and I feel very fortunate to be able to participate in a hobby (ASL) that I enjoy so thoroughly. I thank "all of you" for being a part of that.



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