Monday, October 21, 2019

October North Texas Gameday

I've got good news and bad news.
Bad news: I will not be hosting an ASL Game Day at my home in November.      Good news:  I will be hosting the 10th Annual North Texas Shoot Out on November 8 through 10 at the Holiday Inn Express at 35W and Western Center in north Fort Worth.  
Better news: a temporary NTASL website can be accessed at   
The Tournament will feature the Championship shoot out, Master Sergeant mini, and a SK mini.  We will have the Texas Hold 'Em ASL poker game, the All Around ASL Player give away, a T-shirt, AND a scenario pack designed by north Texas ASL players.  Let me know if you have any questions.

The October game day had a lot of ASL action.  Tracey and Matt played a double header.  
Their first game was Lone Canuck's To Battle By Air #6, Flames on the Borders.  The first turn set the mood as Matt lost two British squads to flamethrower attacks from Tracey's SS B1 Bis French tanks fitted with secondary FT armament.  A HIP PIAT team did eliminate one of the tanks but was promptly overrun by German infantry.  Losing a chunk of infantry early on crimped Matt's ability to contain the German thrust  and Tracey was able to exit the needed points for victory.
 Their rubber match was WO11 Across the Issel.  Again Matt had the Brits, Tracey had the Germans, and the tone was set on the first turn when both of Matt's Shermans were destroyed by HIP German AT assets.  This scenario is tough on the Brits as the German set up is completely HIP and without tanks able to fire Smoke, the VC are difficult for the British to achieve.

Ralph and Bob played FT122 Grasp the Wind.  Ralph attacking as the Americans and Bob defending as the Bolshevik Partisans and Mine Workers.  The Americans have to capture a good number of buildings in the Bolshevik set up area while keeping under a CVP cap.  It is a tight scenario with swings both ways.  One highlight was when Bob's HIP set DC took out two American squads and a leader.  Some lucky shot here, a break there, and the game could have gone either way.  In the end Ralph had to be careful as he neared his CVP cap but Bob was able to keep him out of the high VP point buildings for the win.

Ralph and I played the closing match from Fire Fights, FF12 Easy Out.  It is an American Night Paradrop in the wee hours of D-Day played on a special half board.  Ralph took the Americans and i got the Germans.  I think it is a pro-American scenario with the Americans needing to exit a good chunk of their force off any of three board edges without having 8 CVP of prisoners taken by the Germans.  With a NVR of 1 the Americans just need to avoid letting Germans gain Freedom of Movement and skulk off the map.  Unfortunately for Ralph his first roll of the Game was painful.  Boxcars.  NVR doubled to 2 and Gusts made the landing much more difficult.  Units landed all over offboard, the vast majority of the American squads broke into their component half squads on landing, only one SW chute landed in a recoverable area and most American leaders also landed off board.  My first turn allowed some units Freedom of Movement, mostly the crews for my 105mm Artillery Battery.  In the next few turns Ralph successfully exited most the units needed to win, losing a few small units to German fire although one squad CR'd and ELRd resulting in the remaining HS surrendering to adjacent German Conscripts.  As Ralph lined up the last units needed for the win I was able to Encircle and break another HS who surrendered and then forced the surrender of a full squad who broke to a lucky Artillery hit.  Ralph was not in a position to rescue the prisoners as I was adjacent to the board edges far from his GO units, resulting in my win.  Still think it is pro-American if the NVR doesn't increase, especially without Gusts on landing.  See my ASLOK recap below to see why Ralph should not feel bad about this loss.

Finally, I should let you know I did Texas proud at ASLOK.  I was 1-1 in the US versus the World so don't blame me for the World returning to their winning ways.  I think both games were dice fests, once in my favor and once against me.  In one game my force attacking a Victory Location was broken up with an 8 +2 attack.  When asked why, my answer was, I didn't expect the Conscripts to be able to respond to my 24 +2 attack's 3MC.  Yeah, they went Berserk.

In the mini's, I lost my 1st game of the Bushido: Way of the Warrior mini in a tough fight when I rolled boxcars in a Melee allowing my opponent to walk away with a Good Order unit in the Victory Area on my last DR.  This after I was able to get a unit into CC with the last GO order enemy unit, including having to go adjacent to an enemy HMG to get there.

The next mini was the Night mini.  First game saw my opponent's starshells holding up my right hook attack but I was able to squeeze into the German backfield and take the requisite buildings without activating too many Germans. It was closer than it should have been when I lost a 2:1 melee in my favor, including me ambushing the Germans.  The next game had to be the best game I have ever had the honor to play.  My highlight was a squad with a LMG IN Smoke, taking a 6 +5 shot that pinned a HS about to Advance into a Victory Location.  My opponent asked, who takes those kind of shots?1?  I could only smile.  My opponent and I were evenly matched and the game went back and forth.  It came down to the last 3 melees, I having to win 1 (I did) and not lose either of the other two (I didn't).  In the finals, I just hunkered down in the Victory location, used my ACs and HTs to harass the attacker.  My opponent graciously conceded with a too few turns left for him to take the needed buildings.  A very tough mini, I was lucky to emerge the Champion.

Winning the Night mini made me eligible to GROFAZ - play for the world championship.  Unfortunately, operating on 4 hours of sleep against a top player resulted in an early ejection.  Just glad to have been eligible to gain entry.

My last mini was Wrongway's Ready or Revise (Pete Shelling Playtest mini).  The first scenario involved American Paratroopers taking a German castle during Operation Plunder.  My Germans got in the American's face with HS to slow him down.  My MMG wounded the American 9-2 on the first shot but the MMG broke and immediately was eliminated on subsequent turns.  One HS ended up behind an American force with their RCL holding up the better part of an American platoon.  With two turns to go and finally able to get a toe hold in the Victory Buidling, my opponent declared "Revise".
I got a Bye on the next round as my scheduled opponent decided to finish another mini final from earlier in the week instead.
The final game saw me as the outnumbered Americans in an early war Korea scenario.  I had to prevent the NKs from controlling three buildings or exiting a good number of units off the map and taking American prisoners.  My opponent came at me hard and heavy, breaking my far left flank while surviving my 2 and 3 MC attacks unPinned.  The NK firegroups were generally 8 and 12 FP attacks but occassionally ventured into the 20 FP range.  I was lucky my .50 cal survived such an attack although the crew's leader did break.  Going on a rate tear, I broke 4 squads with another US squad breaking another vital NK unit allowing my broken units to escape the NKs but I was unable to withdraw the MG.  Due to overstacking I was able to keep the NK rally point under DM fire, the +4 IFT DRM falling to only +1 due to my leadership and his overstacking.  My reinforcements arrived as the communists were breaking my defense line allowing me to occupy the VC buildings with multiple MMCs resulting in my opponent conceding and making me a double mini champ.  

Hope to see everyone at the Tournament November 8, 9, and 10.  I still have a couple copies of AP14 which will be available for purchase at the tournament (plus one will be available for the All Around ASL player event).


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

North Texas Gameday (May 2019)

Ed Beekman

The time is fast approaching for the next ASL Game Day at my house.  Here's the kicker, it doesn't have to be a Game DAY, it can be a GAME WEEKEND.  If anyone is interested, I can open the doors around 7:30 Friday June 7th and we can play into Sunday.  You guessed it, the rest of the family will be out of town.  Just bring something to sleep (sleeping bag, blankets, pillows) if you like.  I can break out the war movie collection for side entertainment.  Or we can have the standard Saturday on the 8th.  One thing that does need to be completed is playtesting of our scenarios.  Chris K has sent me an update and there are a couple others in their final playtest stages..

May saw another rain and family (Mothers Day) abridged meeting.  Ralph and I played CH40 Nordic Twilight, an interesting Winter War scenario.  The Finns win by either breaking all the Russian MMC or if there are no GO Russian MMC in or adjacent to any buildings as long as they have a higher CVP tally than the Russians.  Aside from the Deep Snow, Extreme Winter, and Finnish Ski Troops there is the interesting SSR that all buildings have a 1 MMC stacking capacity (overstacking allowed with the usual penalties).  Ralph took the Finns and I got the Russians.  Then the fun began.  We each got to select the main order of battle from three choices plus purchase support weapons, fortifications, etc.  

Both sides attack and defend.  The Finns have a small blocking force west of the town.  The Russians set up in town and have a small relief force trying to break through from the west.  The Finns main body attacks from the east and south.  I set up for all around defense although the western side was lightly manned, just to keep the Finns in their blocking positions and not try anything adventurous.  The south had a mix of units with LMG and a Commissar to keep the units in the fight.  With a 2 ELR, I had many units replaced, including one Elite rifle squad reduced to Conscripts in a single Game Turn.  The east was covered by most of my troops with a T28 tank and HIP HMG reinforcing.  I concealed an AA Gun Truck in a centrally located orchard hex.  

Ralph tried to squeeze me from the NW and South.  I got lucky in the south stripping the concealment from most of the Finns while in the open, inflicting some casualties but I was slowly forced from my position as my units broke, ELR'd, and froze to death.  I had a tank nearby but it refused to budge without radio communications.  In the Northwest I was again able to strip concealment or at least counter with my own concealment.  Ralph forced the T28 to relocate and then immobilized it in CC (it also malf'd its MA due to the cold weather).  Unfortunately for him my HMG opened up on a flank breaking and eliminating the units there, allowing a Russian squad to sneak around and cut Finnish rout paths.  In the West, I warily advanced through the forest, like typical Russians in 1940 Finland.  After several turns I decided to throw caution to the wind and let my BT tanks loose down the road.  Well Lahti dah.  The lead tank was taken out by a HIP 20L ATR team.  The other tanks ran past the wreck and then pasted the gunners with MG and MA fire resulting in them breaking.  Around this time my other T28 had is MA freeze up an then break causing the Finnish blocking position get caught in a tank sandwich with support from my gun truck.  Ralph gave MVP to this truck as it stopped his NW attack and shot up his blocking force.

Final analysis, I had at least three nasty low rolls at critical times and good luck stripping concealment from the Finns, which is important when you have Winter Camouflage.  The resulting Finnish casualties made it nearly impossible for the Finns to meet the CVP prerequisite for victory.

We spent the rest of the day working on Ralph's scenario for playtesting.  We found the units, date, and location for the action he referenced.  We prepared an initial OB.  Upon review, it may need SSR editing an the Allied force may be a little strong for the Germans but that is why we playtest.

Let me know if you want to have an ASL Weekend (I can provide Saturday Dinner).  Look forward to seeing you either Friday the 7th or Saturday the 8th.  Come hone your skills for Austin.  BTW, I will be Chairman in June.


Thursday, December 27, 2018

AAR: Two Shooting Days Till Christmas [CDN14]

Ed Beekman

Ed: Germans
Ralph: Canadians

Ralph came ready to play a Christmas themed scenario, having selected 5 jolly options.  They include Frosty the Snowman, and Under the Noel Trees.  Shrapnel flying over open fields, MG rounds nipping at your heels and all.  We chose CDN14 Two Shooting Days Till Christmas with Ralph taking the Canadians.   At first glance you would think the Canadians have everything going for them, significantly outnumbering the Germans plus they get 5 Shermans against nothing but 1 hex range panzerfausts as a significant threat.  But nothing says Christmas in Italy like wet, muddy EC and the hill objective is crowned with Germans.  The mud neutralized a potential Canadian advantage, SMOKE.  I had most of my troops shifted more to my right with my HMG assigned the left as compensation.  Ralph weighted his attack to my right with a decent sized pinning force on my left.  First roll of the game was boxcars resulting in Rain.  Now the hill became a real slog, costing infantry 3.5 MF to go up hill, 2.5 down.  The Tanks cost 7 MP to go up hill, so they could only increase one level per MPh without risking Excessive Speed Breakdown. On the first Game Turn my HMG went on a ROF tear, leaving abandoned Canadian SW strewn in the mud.  The tanks moved slowly to control bog risks.  The first tank did bog on the second turn but freed itself on the next.  But on that turn two more tanks bogged.  Not a real problem since they were still in a position to blast my positions.  Ralph was able to neutralize my HMG, a real necessity as it had wiped out about 5 squads, as well as the replacement squad to keep it out of the game after the second turn.  The Canadians were starting up the hill but the attack was faltering as I was able to move units around to maintain a tenuous defensive line.  As the game neared its conclusion the Rain became Heavy Rain making my Height Advantage even more potent.  We realized that the Canadians could theoretically reach the top of the hill but would not have enough movement to control enough hexes once there, so we called it a day.  This scenario really gives you a feel of the horrible conditions in Italy.  It had to be the worst EC of any scenario I've ever played.  I think Ralph was fighting the weather as much as he was the Germans.
Looking forward to see you here in January.  Come ready to play test.

Monday, November 12, 2018

North Texas Shootout AAR

Matt Shostack

Just back from the North Texas Shootout and I have a holiday today so I thought I'd compose an AAR while events are still fresh in my memory.

First of all, many thanks to Ed Beekman for running this tourney and doing an excellent job.  He's been helming this for several years now, and running a tournament is not easy.  The door prizes this year were excellent.  Among them were a Korea module, Hatten, and a BFP product (I can't remember which one but BFP is awesome), along with several other scenario packs such as the "Death to Fascism" pack, and some Winter Offensive packs and an Action Pack or two.  I wound up with a pack from the St. Louis club called "China-Burma-India:  The Lost Theater" which looks really interesting and well-produced, including card-stock scenarios in color and a historical map.  Really great stuff.  The entry fee for the tournament is low, and getting one of these things goes a long way to ensuring you get a lot of bang for your tournament buck.  In addition, the trophies Ed found for this tournament are among the coolest-looking ASL trophies I've seen.  I love that thunderbird look.  Thanks also to the DFW / North Texas guys that helped out.

One of the features of this tournament is that games are supposed to be played from a prepared list of scenarios that Ed puts together.  This is a nice change of pace from the Austin tourney, where anything goes, because it means less time spent trying to agree on a scenario to play.  Ed also has a nice little wrinkle correlating the games played with door prize drawing order.  The formula is secret but the idea is that the more variety you play, the more points you get and thus you'll be closer to the top of the order for choosing, and Ed's list of scenarios had a lot of variety in it.  It included some very old chestnuts and also some new stuff and entries from scenario packs that are lesser-known.  He was also careful to include scenarios that allowed players to try to maximize their playing variety, for example, there was a British vs. French fight set in Madagascar, there was a desert scenario, and there was a scenario featuring a couple of AVREs functioning as bridge-layers, just to name a few.  There can be disadvantages to this approach also, because if some of the scenarios don't look all that appealing to you, the choices can seem to dwindle quickly, but every format has pros and cons, and since Austin is a free-for-all, I like this approach for the Shootout, and recognize the effort Ed puts in to create a decent list.  That's why he's in the HoF, folks.

Now for the blow-by-blow of my games.  In this tourney, the Friday games are mainly for seeding the elimination rounds that start Saturday.  My first game was against Ed himself, and we chose "Magnificent Beasts of Prey" which is a late-war Eastern Front action.  I took the defending Germans and Ed had the attacking Russians.  The Germans had to defend a village with a lot of stone buildings, and to do so they had a small force of SS infantry, supported by a JgPz IV/70 (which has a 75LL) and a StuG, both of which can set up hidden.  The Russians had a combined-arms force with three Shermans, a couple of ISU-152, and couple of SU-100s along with 14 elite squads (4-5-8s and 6-2-8s).  The scenario is from the "Death to Fascism" pack, which has a number of special scenario rules, one of which is that each side can customize its support weapon allotment by purchasing them from a table with a certain number of points.  Facing that much powerful Russian armor, I chose a couple of PSKs for the defenders, plus a DC and an LMG or something like that.  I placed the more powerful tank destroyer to protect the German right flank, where I expected his main attack to arrive, but didn't have the guts to double down on this bet by putting the StuG over there too, instead opting to hedge my bets and use it to protect the far left flank, because in this scenario the Russians have wide latitude on their entry.  Early on two tanks with riders ventured into the field of fire of the JgPzIV/70 and were quickly wrecked.  On the left flank, a Sherman scooted away from the StuG, only to discover a hidden panzerschreck team the hard way.  One of the SU-100s got into a good position atop the hill, but malfunctioned its gun shooting at that panzerschreck team.  The Russian infantry began to press the Germans hard on the right flank of the village, but the defenders were able to reposition some troops to shore up the defenses and beat them back.  The JgPzIV/70 later repositioned and knocked out one of the ISU-152s and soon it became apparent that the Russians would have a really hard time taking enough of the village, so Ed threw in the towel.  Fun game.

Next up was Jim Ferrell, and we chose "Fortune Favors the Bold" which is a 1941 scenario in Russia, where a small force of Germans on motorcycles with five PzIIFs must seize a bridge from a small defending force that gets backed up by a platoon of T-26M33s in the mid-game.  The Russians are dug in around the bridge and have a phone line to call in some 76mm artillery.  I took the Germans again and Jim set up.  Because of the artillery threat and figuring the scenario title was a hint (although it's rather obvious by the game length and other scenario circumstances), I decided to bring the tanks right up close and personal with the defenders, so that at least the artillery would have to be called in very close to his own positions, and possibly stray onto them.  Thus the Germans made a beeline right for the bridge and dared the Russians to shoot back.  The observer saw the tanks arrive and promptly picked up the receiver to let the artillery know now was the time to shell the bridge area, but he couldn't raise them.  Jim rolled a 12 on his very first phone roll, X'ing it out for the game.  Yikes.  The chances of Russian victory took a significant hit right there, but if anyone can soldier on and scrappily contest the game anyway, Jim can, and he did.  The main drama revolved at first around the 10-0 commissar in the stone building next to the bridge on the near side.  He was directing a squad with an MMG, and they soon killed a PzIIF that tried to intimidate them by going into bypass.  The other tanks made nuisances of themselves and drove across the bridge to eliminate the defenders on the other side, a squad with an ATR which never managed to score a kill despite several hits, and the now-phoneless 7-0 in a foxhole twiddling his thumbs.  Just as the Russian infantry was being finished off, however, the T-26s arrived, and Jim expertly used them.  They counterattacked the panzers, and overran infantry on the bridge.  If just one of them survived on a victory hex they'd win, and they proved very difficult to kill.  The Germans peppered them with machine guns, and finally knocked one or two out that way, while the other was killed by a PzIIF swarm.  Still it was a very near-run thing, and kudos to Jim for making it so close despite the early setback.  I think that had the artillery arrived, the Russians probably would have won this one.

Friday's games were used to seed the elimination rounds, and I drew Arlen Vanek.  We chose "Block to Bataan" which as you can imagine is an early-war PTO fight between the Japanese and the Americans.  I took the attacking Japanese and Arlen set up a formidable defense.  To win, the Japanese have to clear a road of American units, but the Americans have a roadblock, some wire, and some mines to make things more challenging..  We mistakenly played with two Stuarts instead of one Stuart and one 37LL antitank gun, and I'm not certain whether this is a pro-American change or not, though I might prefer the extra tank if I were defending.  Arlen displayed a lot of sangfroid in not dropping concealment to shoot unless a really juicy target appeared, and the Japanese just couldn't roll low enough on the attack to strip concealment, so they had to rely on the tanks to use VBM to leverage the assault forward (the Japanese get 5 tanks in this one).  With time running out, the Japanese tanks had to land on 3 different infantry groups to prevent them from counting as Good Order MMCs next to the road, and had to risk bogging on the wire to do so, among other things.  Then the Japanese infantry followed up to protect the tanks in close combat.  Ultimately it worked, but all of them had to go my way and luckily they did.  Arlen played a really strong defense and probably deserved a win here.  

Next round I had my driving companion Rick Reinesch, and we chose "Choiseul Few".  This is a bit of an odd scenario set on--you guessed it--the island of Choiseul, in 1943.  The action has a Paramarine force  defending in a village with hills and stone buildings against a Japanese force trying to barge their way through while being chased by another Paramarine force.  As it turned out I'm not sure I'd recommend this scenario, despite it producing the most memorable end-game drama of the weekend.  The reason for that is that the victory conditions produced the rather odd result in our game where it seemed I was incentivized to use the chasing Paramarines not to press on the Japanese heels but rather to just defend a victory building on the far side.  This is because the Japanese win by accomplishing 2 of 3 possible things:  exit 10 points, cause 12 casualty points, or make sure there are no Good Order enemy MMC in 2 of the 3 multihex stone buildings, one of which is far off from where the fighting occurred in our game.  I'll save the juicy details for a "This Happened to Me" column in Banzai, but try to hit the highlights here.  Early in the game Rick deftly made short work of the Marines on the left side near one of the big stone buildings.  The highlight here was a DC hero followed by a banzai against the 10-2 and two squads with the HMG and an MMG.  They vaporized the DC hero with something like a 40 down 4, but lack of rate meant they were now vulnerable to a banzai attack from the other direction, and despite their high firepower and the ability to to use FPF liberally because of their high morale, they caused quite a few Japanese casualties but were ultimately goners themselves.  The Japanese then backed off a bit to hold off the chasing group of Paramarines, but then had to pay attention to the victory conditions, so they exited what they needed, and the rest made their way to the second stone hilltop building on the back right to cause the 5 more CVP they needed, and clear the second building.  I probably made a big mistake here by bringing the chasing group up to help this last building's defenders, and made a big error by firing too much with these guys, which opened the door for a Japanese win by enabling a crazy last-turn banzai charge.  Like I said I'll leave the details for the newsletter, but the Japanese sent 2 more DC heroes to their deaths, including one that was created mid-banzai and was killed only at the last moment by an FPF shot.  It came down to a final FPF that if it broke the firers would give Rick the CVP he needed, but I luckily rolled low enough to preserve the win.  My mistakes at the end should have cost me the game, but if you're going to make mistakes it's better to do it with high morale and high firepower.  The end game was even more dramatic than I've described, and thanks to Rick for an well-played game that he should have won.  I'm beginning to notice a trend here.

That win put me in the final against the formidable John Garlic.  I wasn't really keen on doing the PTO again, but the scenario list was rather limited.  For the final, any scenario is allowed but I hadn't brought any scenarios with me so it was hard to choose.  We picked "The Gin Drinker's Line" from Dispatches from the Bunker because John was interested in gaining more PTO experience, and it looked a bit more interesting than one of the ETO scenarios I was contemplating.  In this one a bunch of British (really Indian?) troops in two groups defend a small village of huts from a determined Japanese attack.  PTO terrain is not in effect in this one, although the buildings are huts.  To win, the Japanese have to score more points than the defenders, and points are scored by CVP and by hut control, and the Japanese have to get at least 5 of the 7 huts.  The defenders are in two groups, one with trenches and wire covering far from the village across a valley and facing one of the Japanese attacking groups, and the other in the village itself to the rear, awaiting the attack from the main Japanese group but also from the Japanese flanking group, which can enter on either the second or third turn; if they enter on the third turn they have the entire board edge to use and can therefore get right after the hut village from the flank and rear pretty quickly.  Looking just at the card I thought it would be hard on the Japanese, so I opted for the defense, but then once I began setting up I doubted my choice.  The cover is really flimsy in those huts, and those defenders are a bit too far away to help the trench-line defenders.  I set up a simplistic defense with the four trenches in a line and the 4 wires in front.  When John saw this, his attackers started veering to go around, although a few seemed sort of committed and therefore they continued to press the trenches on the defenders' right.  With the help of some light mortar smoke, the attackers worked their way around toward the British/Indian left, and eventually got there in good force.  When the flankers arrived as expected on turn 3, things got really desperate for the defense.  John launched 2 more DC heroes at my defenders, and one of them succeeded and blasted the MMG squad in their hut.  In the end game, finding rout paths was difficult and the casualties mounted.  Seemingly two-plus-one shots were the most common from the Japanese, and I dreaded each one because so many of them seemed to hit home and force morale checks.  The end game had the usual PTO drama, where sometimes a pin on the Japanese was a worse result for them than a break, because it prevented them from advancing into CC.  Finally when the clock ran out we tallied the points, the defenders were ahead by 1, and the Japanese had only gotten 4 of the needed 5 huts.  John said he had never done a banzai before, but he played like a PTO veteran, using DC heroes and banzais to great effect.  You could point to many events and rolls that, if they had gone the other way the game could have had a different outcome.  This was the fourth nail-biter of the five games I played.  I could easily have been 1-4 rather than tourney champion.

There were a number of interesting games that I got to watch a little bit of.  Ed arranged a mini for the players that got eliminated from the championship bracket, and it ran along the lines of Austin's Ferocity Fest, where players play the same scenario, and compete with the other players of their same side for who does the best, including for fun events not necessarily related to winning the scenario, such as getting bonus points for killing a Tiger tank, etc.  I can't remember what the first-round scenario was, but the second round was the classic "Eye of the Tiger" from the Windy City Wargamers pack.  I saw several players having a lot of fun with this one, including one of Matt Evans' tanks bouncing quite a few 75L shots off the front of one of Ralph Garringer's Pumas, which was amusing to everyone watching save possibly Matt.  

Monday, July 30, 2018

AAR: Into the Grinding Mill [J147]

Zeb Doyle

Chinese: Zeb Doyle
Japanese: Matt Schwoebel

This is a medium-to-large scenario set in 1937, with a company of first-line Chinese 3-3-7s protecting the board 12 village, which even a rusty old relic as myself knows is tricky to defend. The job is made easier by the clever use of a few overlays, an SSR that huts are NA, and a bunch of pillboxes, trenches, wire, and minefields. To round out the OB, there is the usual Chinese rag-tag assortment of all the cast-off gear of the rest of the world’s armies, including WWI-vintage dug-in Renault tanks and 75mm Krupp mountain guns. To further bolster the defense, a platoon of elite 4-4-7s and a pair of Vickers 6-Ton tanks enter on turn three.
Against this motley array, the Japanese have plenty of force to try and dig out the opposition, with 19 total squads, ranging from elite through 2nd-line, a 10-2, a .50-cal, a FT, some DCs, and six Chi-Ro tanks with a respectable 57*mm MA. They also get two pre-game Bombardments by SSR, each of which is resolved KGP-style, with a Pre-Registered hex and an FFE:1 that hits everything within two hexes of where it ends up.
These Bombardments are one of the main dilemmas in the scenario for the Chinese. Normally, it would be straightforward to heavily fortify the village, with the pillboxes converted to Bunkers and covered by wire and minefields. That sort of concentrated defense certainly can ride out a Bombardment (with the wire and mines needing to roll a 9 or less to survive, and the pillboxes a 10), but the thought of all those important fortifications being wiped out pre-game by a few bad rolls isn’t very palatable.
On the other side of the map, the biggest challenge for the Japanese is time. The scenario is only 6.5 turns long, and they must go ~12-15 hexes to clear the VC area of all non-Broken Chinese MMC. This includes crossing a stream (deep by SSR), navigating the rural environs of board 13, and then digging the defense out of all those pillboxes and trenches on board 12. It can be done, especially with three knee mortars providing smoke, but the timeline is tight and provides no margin for error..
Given this intriguing situation, Schwoebel wanted the attackers, but also the balance (I think it was 13:5 in favor of the Chinese on ROAR prior to our playing). This was not insubstantial, adding a hero and a FT to the Japanese cause, but set up a running gag for me throughout the game where I could mock Matt, so it was worth it. I really felt the Japanese already had enough in their OB to do the job, that time would be the biggest concern, and so adding even more troops would just be gilding the lily.
            As the defending Chinese, I got a little spooked by the potential destruction from the Bombardments and went with a dispersed set-up. This divided the battlefield into three areas: the board 12 church/graveyard area, which offered the best terrain for skulking and where I hoped to make my final stand; the center village, with the bulk of the buildings; and the right flank, which was fairly open but needed to be covered to prevent any Japanese thoughts of a coup de main.
            I put one pillbox/75mm gun combo in each of the three areas, with the bulk of the trenches and machine guns by the church, most of my troops in the middle, and a 3-3-7/Mtr covering a dug-in Renault on my right. The wire and mines were sprinkled around the map, mainly to deny rally points. Finally, the deep stream on board 13 does have three bridges, and I tried to cover those as best I could to force the Japanese to get their boots wet. However, given the set-up limitations and hindrances, I couldn’t find a way to mass much firepower on them.
            With that done, Matt resolved his Bombardments, which both hit the center village area and destroyed my pillbox/gun combo there, really weakening that sector.. With that done, the Japanese commenced the attack with a strong thrust up the middle, and a credible push on both flanks. Matt had noticed the mass of trenches in the church area and committed all his tanks and the 10-2/.50-cal on that side. Early action saw me boxcar out an LMG trying to place a FL on the one bridge I could credibly threaten, and then rolling snakes and cowering off the IFT on a 1-2 shot at the 10-2/.50-cal stack. That and the destroyed pillbox made a great welcome back into ASL!
            As the game progressed through the early turns, Matt was able to take advantage of my weakened center and make very good progress there. My only solace was that he found all my minefields and rolled lots of boxcars on what felt like half of his morale checks, which eroded his manpower advantage even faster than you’d expect for the Japanese.
Out in the boonies on my right flank, my Renault was a super-star, Intensive Firing at everything it could see and somehow doing lots of damage with its 37* peashooter. A 4-4-8 was so struck by its sleek lines and Parisian-styling that they failed to destroy the Immobile, no MG tank in Melee, and Matt then boxcarred another MC, forcing them to Withdraw. The Renault finally went down to a Placed DC, but not before one last IF shot took out a Chi-Ro.
            Meanwhile, in the church sector, things settled into a bit of a stalemate, with Matt’s 10-2/.50 cal dominating the area, but not being able to push forward across the open against my MMG and HMG.. Here, I made a mistake by deviating from my pre-game plan. My pillbox/75mm gun in this area was meant to counter any possible appearance of the .50-cal since it and the 10-2 are such a powerful combo (I ended up with a 1+5+7 pillbox behind a kunai hindrance six hexes away from the Japanese in jungle. After acquisition, I could roll an 8 to get a 12+0 attack, while the return fire would have been a 12+4. That’s about the best set-up the Chinese can expect against the 10-2, I think). At any rate, I got seduced by the Chi-Ro tanks and concentrated on them instead. With no AP, I had a net 5TK to do anything, and as we all know, those B11 guns only have a finite amount of shots in them. I malfunctioned it without accomplishing anything. Stupid.
             During the mid-game, I got my desperately-needed reinforcements. The two Vickers tanks went to my right flank to replace the destroyed Renault, where their 6FP CMGs could cover the open terrain. I still had a squad and gun-crew here that were just outside the victory area, and I wanted to keep them intact and threatening a late-turn dash into the village. The action here turned into an amusing game of cat-and-mouse, with Matt’s balance-given hero and FT trying to work their way through a gully to take out the tanks. This went back and forth for a few turns, but the hero ended up in a jungle hex, got hit by my 50mm MTR, and after yet another boxcarred MC, both he and FT exited without doing anything. So much for the balance!
             In the center, things weren’t looking so rosy. Matt brought his Chi-Ro tanks over to bolster his already-successful attack, and several Chinese squads died for FTR. I had hoped to send my entire platoon of elite reinforcements to the church but ended up having to commit two 4-4-7s to the main village instead. At this point, I got lucky. Matt (rightfully) didn’t want to waste any time, and so entered multiple CCs to clear out the remaining resistance. Most of these were 1:1 attacks, with the Japanese of course favored on the Ambush, but my troops were able to beat the odds by outright winning several of the combats. This huge stroke of luck didn’t come close to turning the tide in the village, but it, along with Matt's numerous boxcar MCs, really accelerated the typical Japanese manpower attrition.
             Over by the church, the 10-2/.50-cal dominated, going on several ROF tears and chewing up my troops. Even with the entry of my last two reinforcing 4-4-7s here, I had to have my gun-crew abandon the attempts at repair and move over to man the HMG instead. Going into the last few turns, it wasn’t looking good for the Chinese, but the clock was ticking loudly. Matt was still facing a timeline that was manageable but had no margin for error.
             The end-game played out with Matt preparing to stamp out the flickering resistance in all three sectors. On my right, I had high hopes that my gun-crew could get back into the VC area, but despite my two Vickers tanks, Matt was able to get troops onto the pillbox. Overcoming the wire and lack of HtH, he had his only good CC roll of the game (needed a 4) to kill my 2-2-7 in CC and eliminate the threat. I still had another squad in this area, but it would have to move into the VC area and face down at least two Japanese squads, so I wasn’t optimistic at all.
             In the center, Matt’s sour CC luck quickly returned. With his (OB-given) FT and the tanks, he was finally able to clear the village, but my Chinese managed to make it a bloody process by holding their own and giving as good as they got in every CC. That, the previous losses, and the threat from my last surviving squad on the right flank meant that there just weren’t that many Japanese left to charge the church.
            Here, Matt’s 10-2/.50-cal had really worn my troops down over the course of the game, despite my trying to maintain concealment and skulk as much as possible. This powerful combo was all set to move into my trench compound and really make things tough for me when some insignificant DR on the far side of the map triggered my sniper which took out the 10-2. Obviously, that was huge, and swung things back in my favor.
Matt sorted through the resulting chaos well, but it set him back enough that on the last turn, I thought I was in pretty good shape. I had a stack of a 9-1, concealed 8-1, 3-3-7/HMG, 2-2-7 tucked away in the far corner of the church, where they were in the VC area but out of LOS of almost all the Japanese. Thanks to the bloody CCs of the center village, Matt had only a 9-1/2-2-8/4-4-7 that could reach me.
As the Japanese stack entered the church next to my troops, they were greeted with a 20+0 attack. Sadly, I pulled a page out of Matt’s book and rolled boxcars, resulting in no effect. Elation for the Japanese, despair for the Chinese. Taking the Subsequent First Fire shot was a better roll, causing an NMC. The leader and crew passed, but the squad rolled snakes and went Berserk, losing the ability to Advance and cancelling the Japanese celebration.
Still, you never know how CC will go, especially when its HtH, and my blood pressure spiked when the 9-1 and 2-2-8 advanced in and Ambushed my troops, despite the presence of my concealed 8-1. The resulting attack was a 1:4, -2 for Ambush and being Japanese, meaning Matt need a six or less to win the game. His string of poor rolls continued however, and the Chinese managed to hang on for victory.
Thanks very much to Matt for the game. He shook off some bad dice and was tolerant of my rusty play, allowing me to treat A.2 as an optional rule. I thought the scenario itself was a ton of fun, although I’m not sure how good my set-up was. The more I think about it, the more I think I was too scared of the Bombardments. If so, it’s probably better setting up a denser and more integrated defense that allows for the pillboxes to mutually support each other. Even if the Bombardments do more damage, the Chinese are probably better served playing with most of their fortifications in great spots, rather than all their fortifications in decent spots. Again though, I’m far too rusty to draw any good conclusions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June DFW Gameday (and AARs)

Ed Beekman

Our June game day had a very specific Stalingrad theme.  

Jim C and Tracey decided  to  play S18 Breaking Bread again since  they felt they made  too many errors  last month.  Again Jim's Russians were  able  to  repulse Tracey's Germans to keep control  of  the Bread  Factory  buildings.

Ralph challenged Matt for  the Chair and they selected DASL2 Berserk!  Matt's Germans came at Ralph's Russians hard and heavy and got away with it due to the luck of the dice.  Ralph's MMG stack went Berserk and charged to their doom.  Then the tide turned as Ralph started to  whittle down the attackers and then he counterattacked, resulting in driving back and reducing the German force, leaving them no chance to get  to the Victory Building.  Ralph will  be Chairman next  month.  

We were expecting another player but real life interfered.  I had set up RB3 Bread  Factory #3 in preparation and Ralph and I  played it after his  first  game  was  complete.  There was a brief battle  for one of the Victory Buildings as Ralph first ambushed and killed a defending squad and then broke half  my  counter attack force but then  the squad was Pinned and CRd by a Booby Trap allowing me to eliminate them in a HtH ambush.  The German main force approaching the Admin block caused my HMG squad, best leader and a broken unit to go berserk.  One charge later and a quarter of my on board OB was eliminated.  Then the German leader went Berserk with a squad.  The leader quickly died but the squad cleared the second victory building, driving all my defenders to FTR death.  My reinforcements entered as the last of my units were dying or fleeing.  Three turns to go and it would take at least that long to get to the victory buildings.  My units walked into a meat grinder and were chopped up just shy of being able to reach the VC.  My last turn I had one squad locked in melee and a concealed leader surrounded by Germans on 5 hexsides.   I announced my move for the win and assault moved the concealed stack away from the Bread Factory and out of encirclement.  Ralph was confused.  He looked over the scenario and remembered I had a HIP unit.  I still controlled one of the victory buildings with the HIPsters in the upstairs location that he never moved through.  His "recon by fire" revealed the HIPpies but could only Pin the leader and my win was preserved.

Have you figured out the theme?  We played three different versions - Starter Kit, Deluxe, and Historical - of the battle for the Bread Factory just south of the Red Barricades.  The Russians won all three games.

Look forward to seeing you at Austin or next month at my place.

Friday, May 04, 2018

AAR: Conscript Corner [OS1]

Ed Beekman
Ralph and I played OS1 Conscript Counter from Objective: Schmidt.  ROAR has the Germans  favored 3:1 but the ASL Scenario  Archive has the Americans favored 2:0.  Ralph picked the Germans.  The Germans must have 2 Good Order Squad Equivalents at game end to win OR inflict 8 CVP on the Americans.  The Americans outnumber the Germans by less than 4:3 and all MMC have a 6 Morale.  All the Germans are Conscripts with an ELR of 1 but they have good leadership.  The Americans have a 3 ELR and a quarter of their troops are 2nd Line with only a single -1 Leader.  The Germans are defending stone buildings on a hillside and the Americans must cover some open ground when they enter.  

Ralph set most of his troops up front to hit the Americans as they enter and left the requisite 2 MMC at the back of the map along with a dummy stack for me to bug hunt in the end game.  I lost a squad to a low IFT DR when entering but was able to position my units to create a death trap for the Germans at the base of the hill.  My kill stack was mostly effective Disrupting the Germans.  I usually only needed an NMC on a 20 +2 attack (frequently it was a better result) with a HS then walking over to accept the surrender.  I had to be careful moving, by the end of turn 2 I was half way to the CVP cap, included losing a 1st Line squad to a Conscript HS on snake eyes which also gave back Ralph the 8-1 leader I had just captured elsewhere.   Fortunately the Americans rallied quickly although many MMC were reduced in quality to Green and 2nd Line.  In the end the American advantages in Firepower and Range doomed the Germans.  There was only 1 good order German squad and no chance to Rally another squad's worth at the end.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

DFW Gameday - And AARs Galore

The DFW ASL scene had an extraordinary game day in March.
Bob (Dutch) successfully defended  the Chair against Ralph (Germans) in G7 Bring  Up the Guns.  The Germans have to exit some wagon towed guns to win.  Ralph misjudged the range and lost some guns to low odds, long ranges shots.  He was clearing the path to exit enough guns to win when a Sniper eliminated a Wagon, giving Bob a cheap win.  Feel free to challenge Bob for the Chair next month.
Jim F. (Slovaks) played Matt (Hungarians) in O11 Short-Lived  Offensive.  Early on Matt burned one of Jim's Armored Cars in Bypass of a kill stack's building.  Jim sent one of his own kill stacks into Melee against Matt's smoked in stack.  The wreck's Blaze spread to  the building then flared into a Blaze resulting in each side losing a chunk of their OB to the fire, something I have not seen before..  Using Prisoners to boost his CVP, Jim easily reached his VP total needed to win.
Jim C. (Germans) and Tracey (Americans) continued  their  SK  journey into the finer points of Guns in S12 Over Open Sights.  Jim had to eliminate or capture all three American Guns to  win.  Jim captured and then destroyed the two 105 ART about mid game but it wasn't looking good getting to the 155 ART.  On his last turn, the crew was broken but still manning the gun.  He had to eliminate the crew to give him a chance to capture the gun in the movement phase.  He prep fired everything he but one squad, eliminating the crew on a final 8 +2 shot.  The squad moved onto the gun, surviving all Tracey's Defensive fire (4 -2 shots [?]).  Everything worked perfectly until he tried to recover the gun and rolled a 6, giving Tracey the win.
After Ralph's Sniper debacle, he challenged me to a game.  We played BFP147 The Commissar's Folly from Poland in Flames.  I got the attacking Russians and had to Capture 2 of 3 Stone/Wood buildings within 5 turns, a tough order as I had to take at least one 2 hex multi-level building.  I split my forces to attack the two flank buildings, including the 1 hex multi-level victory building.  The 1 hex building fell on Turn 2 when I was able to Smoke it and eliminate the defenders in Melee.  On the other flank, I was 2 hexes away from another victory building with concealed units but Ralph was able to strip concealment on a 4 +2 shot.  This stalled my advance.  On Turn 3 he broke every unit close to my targeted building.  I was in trouble, 2 turns to take a multihex stone/wood building and I had no one with in 3 hexes of either.  Pulling out all the stops, I changed targets to the middle victory building.  I was able to push a squad with a LMG into the wooden building between the Polish controlled victory buildings, which prevented him from moving reinforcements between them.  Squads swarmed around my target building.  It was occupied by a Polish squad and a crew with a HMG with broken units hiding upstairs.  I had a squad go Berserk which could be useful getting into the furthest hex of the building.  On the last turn, my Berserk died before it reached it target on a 16 -1 KIA.  This kept me from tying up the Polish squad and moving another unit into position to advance into the hex and forcing the elimination of the upstairs broken units for failure to rout.  I swarmed the HMG and eliminated it in Melee, but I failed to get ambush so wasn't able to infiltrate upstairs which would have probably also guaranteed victory.  Ralph had the last move and had to hold on.  He had ineffective Prep Fire then moved to be able to advance into the threatened building.  I had to eliminate all the broken units and a Good Order squad to win.  I broke the squad with 16 +3 shot but it needed to die or it would rout upstairs to maintain Control.  I hit the upstairs broken units with an 8 +2 then a 12 +2 for no effect other than encirclement.  My kill stack then hit them with a 16 +3 for a 2 MC.  The leader passed but the squads were all reduced (I was hoping for a fatal leader wound which could have wiped all units out).  I kept rate on the MMGs so hit them again with an 8 +3 which eliminated the broken MMCs but the SMC passed the 1 MC again.  I had one more rate shot but it had no effect, giving Ralph a well fought win. 
On the following day, Richard Jenulis from Seattle, was in town and Arlen graciously took up the challenge.  They played J190 Trial Run.  Arlen's Germans had a run of bad luck early on such as his MMG malfunctioning on its first shot which allowed Richard's Canadians to get across the stream.  His Shermans arrived, ran a gauntlet of fire to position the Canadians to be able to exit enough for the win.  Congratulations to Richard on his win and thanks to Arlen for upholding Texas hospitality

Sunday, June 18, 2017

AAR: BFP115 Turned Back at Tylicz

Ed Beekman

Slovaks: Ralph
Poles: Ed

Ralph has been playing DTO lately but I really don't like DTO so he went back to his previous concentration, Cavalry or killing horses as he calls it.  He selected BFP115 Turned Back at Tylicz and took the Slovaks because they have the horses.  The Slovaks need to control all the multi-hex buildings and the single hex church to win.  What makes this interesting is there are hills along both flanks.  I set up to fall back from my right to the left with my Guns with good fields of fire on the roads into town.  I put a few squads and my mortars on the hills.

Ralph set up looking like he would attack across the front with his mortars supporting from my left flank.  He tried to Smoke me on turn one with the mortars but one broke on the first shot and the other had no smoke.  His cavalry tested my flanks.  The cavalry charged the hill on my right flank but the defending squad got lucky with its residual FP and crushed the attack.  The cavalry on the left was also decimated by fire as they dismounted to form up for an attack.  One turn, no horses left on the board.  The Slovakian Armored Cars also pushed the flanks.  On the right, they moved up and threatened the church, moving right into one of my gun's field of fire.  Of course my gun broke on its first shot and was eliminated instead of repaired two turns later.  On the other flank,  the cars crept behind the hill with several squads of infantry, which took several turns to get into position.  Meanwhile, my HMG took out one mortar team and the spotter for the other mortar.  The church fell to the Slovaks when assaulted by Armored Cars, sniper fire and superior numbers of infantry. 

Here the attack stalled.  My mortars on the hill were dropping rounds all over the place, there was a MMG set to lay a Fire Lane along the entire right side of the town, the HMG on the left was going on rate tears until it finally broke and its victory building became susceptible to capture.  On the left hill, the armored cars and infantry pushed up the hill only to be taken under fire from a squad and my other gun.  Eventually all the infantry broke and the Armored cars destroyed due to intensive fire with the gun.  With time running out and no hope of taking all the buildings, Ralph called it a day.  

We did an after action analysis and think the Slovaks should concentrate their infantry on the Pole's left, using the hill and terrain to sweep into the rear of the town by mid game.  The armored cars probably should stick together if they can find positions where they don't hinder each other's fire. Keeping them together while using vehicular bypass freeze would work better since loss of a vehicle doesn't leave the other one stuck due to lack of a radio and an elite morale of only 7.  Also the Slovaks need to keep together in a swarm.  They have lower range and firepower compared to the Poles but far superior numbers.  Individual squads use the 2 FP column but two squads use the 6 FP column.  A swarm of 3 FP squads will be able to Fire Group on those 20 or higher columns.  An interesting scenario but a bit hard on the Slovaks, especially when the Poles dice get hot.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Initial Review: Part 1 - Beyond the Beachhead 2

Nick Drinkwater

Instant Out of the Wrapper Review: Part 1 - Beyond the Beachhead 2; Part 2 - BPF2 Operation Cobra

Its here at last - the next instalment from Bounding Fire Productions after the outstanding Into the Rubble pack is now winging its way across the country to the waiting masses and another excellent product it is too. BtB 2 and BFP 2 can be bought from Bounding Fire in a combined package of $75 or individually at $50 and $44 each respectively. Note this is a first impressions review and I have not tried any of the scenarios or nit-picked them for obvious errors - at first glance, can't seem to find any.

First up is Beyond the Beachhead 2 which is composed of all of the original BtB components plus extra boards and extra scenarios. Chas Smith apparently retained the rights to use the components of that pack when he went from HOB (back) to BFP. The main difference this time is that the original BtB boards (which were mounted hardboard works of art) have been re-issued as ASLSK-style cardboard boards to make them compliant with all the new board issued from MMP. Something has been lost in the translation as the old versions were some of the best quality components in the entire hobby, but this is the price of progress I guess, and at least lugging the whole kit to tournaments has got that much easier.

The super shiny, super glossy 2/3 board overlays have also been replaced with a matt version now. The pack itself has two loose leaf fly covers with a coloured cartoon-style picture of Stug rumbling between two high hedges somewhere in France on the front - the back cover is a summary of the components included, some summary notes from some of the scenarios and a list of the extra items needed to play the pack. The whole pack is stiffened by a cardboard sheet to help it survive the rigours of the US postal service - sadly mine didn't and the corners of the pack took a crunch, but no lasting damage done.

Components (those marked with a * were in the original HOB version of BtB1).

Note that all these boards have bocage marked on them as hedges with a brown perimeter rim and this is a different feature from a regular hedge (which is also marked on some of these boards). Also, these boards and overlays often include many examples of slopes so even the apparently flattest looking terrain has some subtle LOS changes going on - cool!

BFP C*: one third grainfield bocage, one third scattered stone village including a small church and a two hex graveyard and a two hex, level one hill; final third of the board is more bocage.

BFP D*: The road-bocage one. One bocage-lined road running the long-axis of the board, orchard-lined. Small level one hill and small sunken road.

BFP E: One half is bocage-lined grain fields and medium sized level-one hills with sunken lanes, the other half consists of a small stone building hamlet and hill / grain gulley. A 'split' board - think Normandy version of Board 10.

BFP F: A transition board for bocage. Mainly open ground with two bocage-lined grainfields at each end, each with an associated level one hill. (Like Board 49, but designed to transition to denser bocage). Get out the smoke / SMOKE!

BFP V-1*: A great addition to either the BFP boards - an orchard-rich, linear style French stone building village with bocage-lined fields and woods - narrow roads are in effect. This board is designed to be placed on the BFP boards and would cover approximately two thirds of them - the Q hexrow road is the linking feature between the overlay and the board beneath.

BFP V-2: A small 14 hex stone village overlay with single hex buildings. One oddity are depictions of small buildings that straddle hexlines to prevent snap shots and bypass - rules for this are included (see below).

BFP V-3: Another 2/3 board overlay linked by the Q hexrow road. This is the antithesis of BFB V-1 being a dispersed stone building village sited around a small one-hex chapel. A couple of large bocage fields are added to the overlay edges, but this is all in pretty open terrain.

BFP H-1*: A 2/3 board overlay dominated by a level 2 hill covered by an intricate network of choking bocage and orchards and a snaky orchard and bocage-lined road. Slow progress going over this particular hill.

BFP H-2: A 22 hex two-level hill overlay with a couple of small bocage hedges included. Fairly simple in its design.

Rules addition: One page of the BtB 1 rules is reproduced here including rules for light bocage and hexside buildings. On the reverse of this page are the known errata and Q&A for the ITR packs and the old Hell on Wheels pack.

Scenarios 1-8 are from the BFP 1 (HOB) version. These are described elsewhere on the web, so I'll breeze over them.

Btb 1: Taking Tailleville
Btb 2: Merely Hanging On
Btb 3: Kraut Corner
Btb 4: Firestorm in St.Manvieu
Btb 5: Martinville Ridge
Btb 6: Men Against Tanks
Btb 7: Blood on Hill 192
Btb 8: Steel Inferno

New Scenarios:
Btb 9: Norman "D".
6.5 turns. 5.5 SS squads on BFP Board E (bocage, grain and hills) defending against 11 Elite and 1st line US squads. A very simple, all infantry building control scenario, probably good for tourneys.

BtB 10: Unplanned Attack.
5.5 turns. Played on overlay BFP V3 only (the dispersed village in open terrain one). 6 squad equivalents of all HIP German paras have to deny 13 1st and 2nd line US squads from controlling the majority of the village buildings. Another all-infantry tournament sized special.

Btb 11: Bosq Barbecue.
6.5 turns. A bit meatier this one. Two good and four bad (447) SS squads with copious AA Gun support and 4 self-propelled guns have to deny 15 British first line units from taken a chunk of the BFP-D village. They have a tough approach over the wide-open spaces of BFP F, but they are given a ton of British smoke generators to do it - 5 basic flavours of Churchills and two Crocodiles!! This one looks super-cool.

BtB 12: Going against the Grain.
6.5 turns of BIG scenario. The Brits are on the defense and they have to prevent the Germans from exiting units and taking stone buildings in the BFP F village - the SS can also try and sneak units off by using the lomg snakey bocage-lined lane of BFB D that just screams 'ambush'! The SS receive 15 of their main guys plus a couple of engineer squads and receive a couple of Flak panzers, a couple of Bisons and 5 (yep, that was five) Panthers. The Brits have to split their 15 1st line squads, but they also receive two 17 pounders, two 6 pounders a Mortar and three bog-standard Churchills. This one looks challenging but a lot of fun.

BtB 13: By Chance.
6.5 turns. A very weak German force of 6 conscript and second line squads lock horns with an American recce force on trucks with half-tracks. An immediate CVP cap will keep the US honest as they try to control buildings on Board 17 attacking across the BFB F board. The biggest thing in this is the US 100mm OBA.

BtB 14: Swatting a Hornet.
6 turns set on one-half of BFP E with some stone rubble thrown in for good measure. This is BFP's version of the SP scenario "The Hornet of Cloville" where nine 1st and 2nd line US squads with three shermans have to remove all good order German MMC and AFV's from a critical hex. As well as the eponymous Hornet, the Germans get a MkIV and 6.5 para and second line squads.

BtB 15: Becker's Battery.
6 turns for an all armour British force to accumulate 66 VP from either exiting vehicles off the south edge of Board 33 and half of BFB D, attacking across Boards 44 and BFP F. The Germans can also exit units after Turn 4 and in this case, the twist is that the Germans recieve 10 of the funky 75L and 105 SP guns that came with Pegasus Bridge I think). This is a mighty force of British steel including 15 Sherman V, three Fireflies, and a couple of Crusader AA tanks. The Germans get the option to utilise HIP if behind Bocage hedges, but a lot of this fight will take place on open terrain and grain fields. Looks a bit different this.

BtB 16: Battlegroup Nor-Mons.
6.5 turns and another chunky scenario. Brits vs SS in this set on BFP E, F and D. The SS need to control a central level two hill and have more VP than the Brits for building rubble control - Brits receive VP for any units on any hills at Game end. To carry this task out, nineteen 1st and 2nd line squads with 80mm AND 120mm OBA, 5 Shermans and a Firefly need to hold off 21 mixed quality SS squads with Mortar OBA plus two Tigers, 5 Mk IVs and a couple of Stugs. The balance is interesting in the form of FB, but maybe is a mistake as only the US are listed with their details (unless I have misunderstood something here).

A great set of scenarios, and apart from the issue of conquering the problems posed by Bocage defense and attack, are all very straightforward. Almost all are moderate with no wind (a couple have mild breezes for spreading smoke) but there is no night, rain etc and no scenario is larger than 6.5 turns, though some are quite sizeable in terms of numbers of units. Once people are happy with the Bocage (both normal and light) and slopes and narrow streets, then there should be something for everyone in here. The scenario cards are of excellent quality being printed on a nice quality paper with the counters and boards represented in colour - great effort.

A really good effort overall - those who own BtB 1 may have an issue with the price of $50 for something they have about 40% of already, but if you're new to it, that's fairly good value for 4 boards, 5 overlays and 16 scenarios. It would have been brilliant if BFP had issued an upgrade pack for those who already had BtB1, but I understand the problems of small company economics and the re-issue of the boards in the new format is definitely a useful thing so I am really happy with these. A- for those new to the BtB packs and a B++ for those who already have them.

Operation Cobra review to follow.

AAR: TOT45 The Dogs of War

Ed Beekman

Germans: Ralph
Partisans: Sean
Russians: Ed

The Dogs of War is a 3 player scenario in May '45 Prague.  The Czech Partisans are defending the Victory Building (VB) against attacks by 2nd SS Das Reich units and Russian Liberation Army (ROA) units which are Russian POWs rearmed by the Germans to liberate Russia.  Ralph wanted the SS and Sean took the Partisans leaving me with the traitorous Russians.  Sean set up first in the VB, where his units are Fanatic, on the hex row A half of board 21, and would receive a couple of reinforcing squads with an obsolete French tank on Turn 3.  He would also roll to randomly generate infiltrating squads during each of the Partisan Player Turn Rally Phases.  Ralph set up second on the graveyard side of the VB.  His force included a couple of JgPz and an obsolete, although not nearly as obsolete as the Partisan's, Skoda tank.  I set up last on the other side of the VB.  My force included a pair of captured T34s, a pair of halftracks, a Hetzer and a Flamm halftrack.  The ELR situation is  also interesting.  The Partisans naturally have a 5 ELR, the Russians have a 1 ELR.  The SS take it on the chin with a 0 ELR, which  means squads that fail a MC break  into HS and HS Disrupt but there will be  no surrendering because all sides have invoked NO QUARTER.  And EVERYONE has Panzerfausts!  Alright, the Partisans' are captured so their PF checks and TH rolls have a +2 modifier.

The sequence of play starts with the SS and in the DFPh the Partisans goes first followed by the ROA.  The second phasing player is the ROA with the SS followed by the Partisans  in DFPh.  Finally the Partisans go with the ROA followed by the SS in DF.  You need to consider unit positions at the end of your movement carefully, they can potentially be shot at in 4 fire phases before they can move again.  With some low ELRs this can be really bad.

There are 5 ways to win the game.  In descending order:  be the only player with Good Order (GO) MMC in the VB; have 2 more GO Squad Equivalents within 2 hexes of the SW corner of the VB than the next one player; have 3 GO Partisan squads in the VB (applicable only to Partisan player); have more GO HS equivalents within 2 hexes of the SW corner of the VB than the next one player; the Partisan wins.  Our game was decided by the 4th VC.

Ralph started the game trying to strip concealment from Partisans in the VB and cautiously advancing through the graveyard.  He also took a shot at my concealed kill stack forcing it to relocate during my turn.  The Partisans began repulsing the SS with a 10-2 led HMG which broke up an SS squad.  My DF was ineffective in stripping partisan concealment.

In my first turn I moved towards the VB, getting the FlammHT in position to "zip-po" in for Bounding Fire on later turns then return to hiding while the T34's moved to firing positions on the VB with the Hetzer covering them from hostile armor.  Ralph broke the Sean's HMG stack in DF.  One of my T34s malf'd its B11 MA on the first shot. 
Sean generated several Partisan infiltrators around the periphery and one in the VB.  He remanned the HMG while DF seemed to redirect against infiltrators to get them off the Rout paths.  

Ralph's turn saw him get into the VB with a pair of squads while his JgPz moved against my armor.  Many infiltrators were neutralized while I was hit with the first of 3 sniper attacks in the game.  Both opponents put their snipers on my side of the board and each attack hit a stack of units and I would each time obligingly roll a Yatzee, resulting in all my leaders wounding and stunning a HT.  The only other sniper activity was mine, which eliminated an infiltrating Partisan leader late in the game.  

I didn't like Ralph interfering with Russian interests, so I engaged his PzJgs.  I lost my 'lame' T34 to one but the Flamm HT burnt it up before going back into hiding.  When I assaulted the second PzJg, it came down to a Gun Duel.  We both had +5 Firer Based DRMs so the lower roll would go first.  I rolled a 5 which meant my round would go up the enemy's rear since all other TH DRM for me were 0.  Ralph rolled a 3, winning the duel and destroying my other T34.  The Hetzer then attacked, Ralph spinning for a desperation IF shot that missed.   The Hetzer moved to the side and reduced it to burning wreckage.  I thought it a good trade, 2 T34s for 2 JgPz.  I also loaded a couple squads into my HTs and moved to isolate infiltrating partisans and keep some SS units DM.

Sean generated a few more infiltrators and played it safe but had some units broken in the VB by DF. 

Ralph moved on the Partisans on the VB ground floor, eliminating 2 squads in CC and capturing one of the two stairwells.  He also pushed along the southern flank to attack the Hetzer and my LMG team on that flank.  His squad passed its PAATC but failed to kill the Hetzer (in motion) in CC. 

On my turn I shot up and flamed Partisans and SS on the north and south flanks.  The Hetzer safely drove out of CC (Ralph needed 3's to hit w/PF as I drove through the burning PzJg wreck) and threatened the Skoda behind the graveyard wall.  Ralph fired the Skoda at the Hetzer and missed.  As I moved to a more optimal firing position, Ralph took the Intensive Fire shot.  Snake eyes, Critical Hit.  He rolled a 7 TK, I passed my possible Shock TC for No Effect.  9 penetration +1 for range, double less 14 armor = 6 final TK #.  The Hetzer moved behind the Skoda for a better position and gained acquisition.  I was able to sneak a squad into the building but it would not be able to stay.

On Sean's turn he moved to counterattack Ralph in the VB while bringing his reinforcements along a safe approach to the VB along the northern flank, catching a few SS between me and him.  In DF, I got lucky with an armored HT fire group against the SS squad on my side of the VB.  This left NO Good Order enemies on my side of the building.  Ralph lost a squad for FTR because the Hetzer cut its rout path (Hetzer = Troublemaker).

Ralph cleared the southern approaches to the VB while making a deal with Sean not to attack each other there.  He came after my Hetzer with a squad and 9-1 leader.  I failed my Motion roll along with my DF.  One Panzerfaust later the Hetzer was a burning wreck.  Ralph was then able to rout a couple squads worth of broken HS to the 9-1 for future rallys.

 My turn was a game changer.  I took a halftrack and raced it into bypass of Ralph's stack guarding the road I had to cross into the VB.  It survived PSK, PF, and Reaction Fire suffering only Immobilization.  Yeah, it died in CC but it had done its job better then I could have hoped.  I would have been just as happy with a burning wreck between Ralph and me.  This freed me to rush 5 squads, a wounded leader, MMG and my remaining vehicles into position in and around the VB.  My AF eliminated all but 1 of Seans remaining partisan squads in the VB.  I set up a defensive perimeter around the staircase I controlled and waited for the counterattack.

At this point it was the world against Ed, I had Victory Condition 2 in the bag.  Ralph was vowing that he may not win but he was going to make sure I didn't win either.  Sean was figuring if he played us against each other, maybe, just maybe he could sneak away with the win.

Sean moved his units into position to make the final charge into the VB with his reinforcement and infiltration squads while using his HMG to break one of my squads.

Ralph had rallied his broken units with the 9-1 leader and was able to run them into the VB via the graveyard while moving the Skoda next to the SW corner of the VB to count towards victory and threaten my Flamm HT.  Some units on the south tried to also get into the VB but were repulsed by me.

Ralph also jumped one of my squads in CC which turned into a Melee.  Ralph now had 3 GO squads and a vehicle in position to count towards victory plus another HS tied up in melee with one of my squads.

In my turn, I played it safe.  I moved units upstairs where they could fire at Sean's units that will be trying to enter the VB.  I also self rallied a HS with a LMG which I moved into position to lay a Fire Lane across the southern approach to the VB.  Ralph DF'd into our melee, breaking my squad who obligingly died trying to escape the melee.  I had 3 MMC and 2 vehicles in position to count towards victory, but Ralph had picked up another GO HS from the melee meaning I was a HS short of VC 2.

Sean's turn had one objective for him - have 3 GO squads in the VB.  One was already present  so he only needed 2 more with 5 squads available to get there.  His first squad ran across the road, survived the DF and got in the building.  The second squad crossed the road but broke to Final Fire adjacent to the VB.  Next he tried the southern flank.  The first squad ran through the LMG fire lane but Pinned outside the building.  The last squads had to go through the residual fire or get within HT flamethrower range.  They did not make it.  Lastly he moved his tank into position to count towards victory.

In the final tally, all three of us had GO squads in the building - Sean with 2, Ralph with 3.5 and I had 3.  Nobody had VC #1.
VC #2: Sean had 4 squad equivalents, Ralph had 5.5, and I had 7.  Missed  by a HS.  Nobody had VC#2
VC#3:  Sean only had 2 squads in the VB.  He did not have VC#3.
VC#4:  I had the most squad equivalents as totalled in VC#2 above for the win.

It was a very good game with a completely different feel.  The fire sequences are different which makes your moves, advances and rally points very important.  Next time you have an odd number of players, you should try a 3 player game like this.  The journal published a couple of them recently.