Friday, April 07, 2006

AAR: DB051 - Dash For Mt. Croce

Zeb Doyle

Towards the end of the April game day, Eric and I found ourselves looking around for a quick playing scenario and found the perfect solution in the latest edition of the excellent Dispatches From the Bunker. The scenario that jumped out at us, DB051 Dash For Mount Croce, has four German 4-6-8s and two 2-4-8s, with 4 dummies, a 9-2, 8-1, Lt. MTR, MMG, and LMG, positioned in the board 12 village, trying to keep fourteen American 6-6-6s and 4 assorted leaders from entering on one side and exiting 17 EVP off the other side. Sounds easy for the Americans, but there's a slight catch in that the game is only 3.5 turns long. The scenario title is pretty apt, as the Americans have to treat this more as a race than a fight.

Eric thought that would be a cool challenge, and took the attackers. I set up an uninspired defence, with a screen of four half squads mixed with dummies across the front and the 9-2/4-6-8/MMG and 4-6-8/LMG in level two locations with good LOS further back. The last 4-6-8 was given the MTR and sent to cover the left flank, which was somewhat more wooded than the rest of the map.

The game started with a swarm of American halfsquads entering on my right flank and pushing hard through the graveyard there. I tried for a judicious use of fire, with an eye towards leaving residual in key hexes. The Americans didn't like being shot at, with one HS falling to a K/ attack, another boxcarring his MC, and the rest ELRing when hit. When a few full squads ventured on the map, they were treated in similar rough fashion and sent packing to the rear. The poor start caused Eric to move rather more cautiously with the main body of the force, and several large stacks of Americans assault moved onto the board, maintaining concealment. The only advancing fire shot was an 8+2 NMC on my 4-6-8/LMG which broke him, opening up my right flank to the advancing waves of Americans.

My turn consisted of skulking, and so the first turn played out in very speedy fashion. Turn two dawned for Eric, and he commenced by rallying the troops I'd broken the previous turn. During this phase, two heroes were generated and the spawning squads battle hardened, going some way towards offsetting the ELR failures earlier. The rest of turn two was devoted to clearing out my forward screen of halfsquads. Since Eric hadn't been very agressive overall in the first turn, my dummies were still around and did a good job distracting the 6-6-6s from completely wrecking my real troops. Despite that, two of my halfsquads were surrounded, shot up, and destroyed. Even worse was an 8+3 AFPH shot that broke my 9-2 on an NMC, forcing him to rout away from the key level two machine gun nest.

Again, my turn flew past in a matter of a minute or two, although it did last long enough for me to self rally the 4-6-8/LMG and boxcar the 9-2 self-rally attempt thereby killing him. The dice gods giveth and the dice gods taketh away. The whole thing left me a little sad, but not as sad as Eric when turn three started and he realized he had but two movement phases left to win the game. This epiphany precipitated a mad dash towards the far board edge, allowing me multiple -2 shots with my remaining troops. Although I lost another HS on an FPF shot, I was able to do lots of damage to the American force, with the 6ML really taking its toll on Eric's troops. Importantly, I was able to break every American that ventured ADJACENT to my units except for the two newly-minted heroes. Engaging in CC was not something I had any interest in!

At this point, we stopped for a quick tally of the VP. With one German and one American turn left, Eric had 21 EVP in range of the board edge and needed to get off 17 for a win. To stop all those 6-6-6s running though the open, I still had my MMG squad, my MTR squad, my LMG squad, and a HS. It was obviously going to be tough for Eric, so he decided to gamble and advanced his heroes into my adjacent units for some CC. The first hero killed my HS without even dying himself, and although the second hero perished in the attempt, he also managed to annilate his target, my 4-6-8/LMG, which really hurt.

Now I was down to my 4-6-8/MMG and the 4-6-8/MTR, who was slightly out of position. I prep fired the MMG at a stack of Americans, and managed to break a 7-0 and a HS. That left Eric with just 18 possible EVP left. Luckily for me, all the big American kill stacks were out of LOS of my MMG, so the only unit that had to worry about taking fire was the MTR squad. I opted to be cautious and AM him into position to shut down the last ditch American dash on turn four. The move brought him into LOS of a single 6-6-6/BAZ, who fired through an orchard into a stone building and scored a CH with the BAZ on my squad. The 16-3 left a broken 2-4-7 behind, and a single good order German squad on the entire map!

The end game now came into focus with something of a ruthless simplicity. No American squad could afford to prep fire, risk throwing smoke, or do anything else other than run for the map edge and hope for the best. As for my part, I simply had to hit one of the many targets running through the open and hope the 6ML unit would break or even pin. Eric started the exodus with a lone 6-6-6. I opted to fire the MMG only at him. The 4-2 would likely suffice, and if there was a fluke HOB MC or a high roll on my part, I wanted another shot...just in case. The remaining American hero would have been more than happy to run adjacent and block off any German chances at SFF if I did fire everything and the target somehow survived. With all that running through my head, I rolled the 4-2, commenting "This is for the game!" The roll was a double five: cower, no effect, and the game really was over, as the Americans marched off the map in peace.

Congratulations to Eric for the win. After a tough string of dice at the start, he did all the little things he needed to do for victory, using the American advantages of Assault Fire and CC to clear out my troops in rapid fashion. The scenario, while tiny in size, was actually more fun than I had anticipated. Both sides get just enough to work with that there are meaningful decisions being made each turn. I'd place it in the same category as J98 Lendlease Attack: it's actually a lot of fun for its size and a good learning scenario, but I don't plan to play it again. Incidently, Dash For Mt. Croce is likely a good scenario as well for anyone looking to work on their end game. Every turn I played, I felt like I was making the decisions I normally make at the end of a close but larger scenario. I have to tip my hat both to Eric for the thrills and chills of the game and to the Bunker guys for putting out such consistantly interesting scenarios.

Thanks for reading,


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