Friday, February 24, 2006

AAR: SP43 Deadeye Smoyer

Nick Drinkwater

German: Nick Drinkwater (ELR 2, SAN 4) American: Stephane Graciet (ELR 4, SAN 3)

As a bit of light relief, Stephane and myself played a quickie from the fourth SP pack, the first venture into these scenarios for both of us. This was a midweek 4 hour maximum game, so 4.5 turns of rounding up pathetic late war second line and conscript germans by an elite mobile American battle group in war-torn Cologne looked quite fun. Some of you are probably familiar with some quite famous photographs in which a Panther standing guard by Cologne cathedral has just toasted a Sherman - let's see if we can repeat history!

This is a short and sharp firefight in which the US has to control one large multi-level stone complex (the "town hall") across the town square from the monster Board 45 mega-building which in this case represents the cathedral in the centre of the city. The Germans are everything you'd expect at this point in the war - a bunch of part- timers who are more interested in saving their skins than any real last ditch defiance and will almost certainly melt away in front of a very efficient US scouting force. To reflect this, I get 3 x 447, 3 x 436, an 8-1, an 7-0, a MMG, a LMG, a PsK and a Panther (more anon) to take on an at- start Sherman (with 76L), 7.5 x 667s, an 8-1, 8-0, MMG and a single Baz (from an M3 halftrack). The Americans get a certain degree of flexibility in their entry, effectively being allowed to come on any of 3 sides of the area that needs to be defended. In addition, they get an armour leader Pershing that comes on in turn 2 on any west edge hex. So, a couple of dummies go in outlying locations to try and give a hint of a threat, but most of the squads go in the main building office complex where they can dominate the main central plaza and also do a fallback for the last couple of turns. I do leave a 447 / LMG combo in an outlying building to watch over the eastern US entry area and try and speedbump things down a bit.

The big unknown for the US is where my Panther is - the other half of the VC mean I can win by having a LOS from the Panther at game end to 2 open-square hexes right under the nose of the cathedral, even if I lose the "town-hall". SSR means the Panther is able to setup HIP even in open ground, as long as it is accent to at least 1 wall. Keeping the Panther alive is obviously a key feature of the defense, so I put it in an obvious spot to dominate the town square and control the western approaches to the main VC buildings.

Stephane comes on hard from the eastern direct approach which is the least open for me to dominate, but sends 2.5 squads flanking in from the west. He tries a very VBM brave move with his M3 to force my 447/LMG to drop cover - bad move as it turns out as late-war germans are totally lethal in CC vs OT AFV even if they miss with the PF. Easy points. The smoke from the now burning HT actually helps me as Stephane gets into a bit of shooting match with my guys and now I'm at +5 with in-hex blaze smoke as well. All his other long-range fire and assault fire rolls high and the US waste a lot of ammo against dummies - always nice.

Turn 2 sees the entry of the other key US asset - the Pershing. Now mentally, I'm treating the hidden Panther like an HIP gun, but of course it's not, and it gets put on board as soon as anything has a LOS to it. Hmmm. The Pershing comes onto directly threaten me from my western flank: expecting it to go hull-down behind a wall, I am somewhat surprised when he barges through the wall and comes after me...I miss with the first shot, declare IF, need about a 5 or less to hit, roll a 4 (hull shot), need a 5 or less to destroy it, roll a 3. Scratch the non-shooting Pershing. Things really looking up! I carry on to machine gun the escaping crew (which could have been nasty for affecting later rout paths). Afterwards we realised that Stephane should have done the vehicle swarm and come at me with both tanks from opposite sides, but he became fixated by my AFV CC burners and continued to pop off shells at them when he should have been a movin'.

So two big slaps around the face for Stephane and we're only in Turn 2. Nice start. From then, Stephane grinds slowly on towards the Victory building - I am not optimally placed to stop this (rushed setup) and with the numerous walls on the edges of building hexes with copious smoke grenade potential, getting across the streets is not too hard for the US - I am reluctant to claim wall advantage as my troops are so weak (with +2 ELR) they need all the TEM help they can get - so I stay concealed in the buildings. My half-track-killing stars get wiped in a CC, and in T3 Stefan is in the building already. This is decision point for the panther - firstly I move it adjacent to the main building to try and interdict some of the US street crossing tricks. I even had a CH vs. a squad with the cannon, but the effects die-roll are pitiful and they shrug it off. At the same time, my very weak infantry are trying to juggle maintaining concealment with actually hurting the American but it's not going too well. The America is just shrugging off every attack I make. Then Stephane breaks my linchpin - my 8-1 leader and sends the 447 (with HMG) berserk with a cheap 8+2 - typical! All is going wrong and the main VC building is doomed to fall.

Facing imminent ruin and the threat posed by the Sherman + Bazooka tank-hunting combo, I decide to do something aggressive with the Panther. I send it on a Valkyrie death ride against 2 x 667 and a 9-1 leader in a road hex at the far southern end of the square - these guys had been busy murdering my berserkers so there was no CCRF for these boys who were fired out. Therefore the majesty of a 16-1 Overrun takes place - awesome! Then I roll the 11 and they don't even pin - classic ASK at its finest. Dumb move as I should have sent the tank back to skulk somewhere for the last gasp LOS to victory hex win, but think of the style points from an Overrun in a Panther baby! Anyway, I end in motion adjacent to Stephane's in-motion Sherman. A nice turn of events is that Stephane immolates himself with a back-blast from the bazooka and breaks the squad and the leader - yes! Finally, he tries to advance a bunch of MMC into the Panther's hex, but most fail their PAATC and the one that passes gets toasted by the Snoogie - oh yes, we had it all in this game....

So for the last German turn, all I need to do is get the tank out of the hotspot it is in and back down to the town square and I'm in great shape for the win. The bazooka team are DM, the other infantry at this end of the town is stranded and even the now-stopped Sherman is not guaranteed to kill me from behind, especially if I pop Smoke. But wait, what's this? Luck starting to abandon me again? Surely not. I fail to find and fire the SN so "No smoke for me" (you'll get it if you watch Seinfeld). OK - I can still pull this one out with luck. Then the DM 7-0 leader self-rallies on a 3, the DM bazooka-holding squad rally (roll a 4), find a bazooka shell and at 3 hex range, put one up the exhaust pipe of the Panther. To say I was gutted is an understatement.

I am completely resigned to losing now with just going through the motions of losing the "town-hall" building to endure. My last good order squad goes down in CC and all I'm left with is an unbroken 7-0 and a broken 436 on Level 1. We play it out - Stephane thinks to mop up, but this would still leave the unbroken SMC to deny building control to the US so he maneuvers several squads around to be able to take the prisoners (and chooses not to fire at them in the Advance Phase in case of freaky HOB results). This just leaves a single 7-0 to face a 13:1 CC at -1. I do dodge the ambush but am unable to ambush them back.

Last dice roll for the very uneven CC - only a 12 roll (letting me withdraw into the one unoccupied Level 1 hex) by Stephane can stop this one going to the good guys.

He rolls the dice: 12.


Another absolute nail-biter and for the second time in recent history, I deny Stephane Building control through the survival of an SMC. It doesn't get better than that. We actually worked out afterwards that he could have got an MMC in every hex to prevent that one, but not on this occasion. As always, Stephane was a total gent to play and took this massive kick in the crotch with dignity. I was totally ecstatic on the other hand!

This game had it all - crap troops, PF attempts, Panther overrun, successful ATMM CC vs vehicle, the Snoogie killing a squad in CC, self-immolation, successful IF to knock out the Pershing, CC withdrawal, huge last-ditch self rally attempts, Berserkers! But weirdly no snipers. Basically all the really fun things and why this game is just so damn cool to play!

Nick Drinkwater


Anonymous said...

Wow, that was a great AAR of a game that sounded like lots of fun. As an aside, it sounds like this game definitively proves that Austinites are tougher, meaner, and just generally manlier than their wussie Houston counterparts. Every game I've ever played, only living units could withdraw after a 12 is rolled in CC (A11.22, third sentence). And, on my copy of the Austin Approved Close Combat Table, a 13:1 down one attack is guaranteed to kill whatever it's aimed at.

So, if you Houston guys, with two squads and a leader, somehow can't kill off a lowly German corporal in CC, well, that's pretty weak stuff. It's called a Melee, not a pillow fight...You guys can try and mock the Austin affinity for lattes, but at least we can kill someone when we outnumber them 13:1 and the game is on the line. I have to get down to your neck of the woods for some more games if that's how you play!

Thanks again for the AAR, Nick, congrats on stealing the win, and remember, A.2 is your very good friend in situations like these. ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh man, did I shark Stephane? I hope not. I thought the rule mentioned that anytime a unit is attacked in CC with a 12, the synchronous nature of CC is suspended, and the unit being attacked has the option to withdraw?

Fuzzy middle-aged memory plays tricks - will consult the good book this w/e and review.

In another addendum, even more rarely used rules actually came up when I think about it: when the Panther broke his CC squad with the Sn, it then followed it up with a CC using MGs. Caused another MC which he subsequently failed, rolling Boxcars (Crew Small Arms) - bye-bye half squad.

I rise above the general disdain thrown down by the Austin-ites - I sneer in their general direction. Like any good woman can tell you, its the not the size or abundance of your lattes, its the quality that counts. Montrose-latte is to Austin-latte what a Late War US Marine squad is to a broken Italian disrupted conscript half-squad...

Thanks for the input Zeb, even if I now feel ashamed...I owe Stephane one cheap win.