Thursday, May 11, 2006

AAR: ASL35 - Blazin' Chariots

Nick Drinkwater

British: Stephane Graciet

German: Nick Drinkwater

All-tank classic from West of Alamein and a perfect warm-up for the planned Pete Shelling mini-campaign around Alem Halfa from Journal 5 that Stephane and myself are about to launch into in June. This is as pure as it gets in ASL - no need to worry about funny immobilization rules as everyone is fully tracked on the scrub and hammada, no snipers, no advances, no ELR to worry about, no close combat etc - just an armour shoot fest!

Some people hate desert for a lot of the reasons just listed and also as they think it is too dicey...tosh! The beauty about this environment is the dice-element - every roll, comes with some risk, some uncertainty, some need to think about the consequences when this shot fails - it really pushes you to look at and consider a lot of those To Hit and To Kill modifiers that normally you just glance over as you find yourself rolling the 27 needed to toast that Sherman with your Panzerfaust. This is the beauty of early to mid war tanks whose TK numbers are 10 and 11 against AF in the 4-6 range - you are forced to weigh up ROF vs IF vs * range modifiers vs the agonising choice of being BU or OT to get the extra +1 vs the threat from the extensive MG platforms that both sides have. I could go on, but you get the picture...I like the desert as you need to think. Sneaky LOS tricks are not an issue here, and in this one you're likely to get burnt retinas if you try it (Late Afternoon Sun Blindness is in effect).

Anyway, I digress. I got my ass handed to me by Stefan in this one...and what was great was that I thought had him in my vice-like grip pretty much all the way to the end. To win, the Germans need to score 56 DVP vs the British 40 DVP (basically approx 8 tanks vs approx 6). Stephane led the charge and from his original 12 tanks, after turn 1, he was three immobilized and 1 burning wreck worse off and I was unscratched. I thought this was great but in reality the crew only abandoned one of the three disableds and the others were gaining acq. Stephane did the standard split into flanking positions, but his weaker side was stopped in its tracks, with two KIA and 1 immobilized and gunless. I continued to immobilize and re-immobilize tanks, but they kept shooting back and scoring the occasional success. Also, once the MkIVEs have used up both it's HEAT and AP, they are quite weak tanks in this battle with their 1 Side Armour, and the MkIIs need to maneuver point blank and from behind to have any chance of hurting the Stuarts. I even got behind an immobilized, abandoned Stuart with a MkII and even then I couldn't knock it out after repeated attempts (talk about not even being able to hit a barn door).

So after a turn or two once the Mk IVs have used up their special ammo, it really all comes down to what you can do with the 5 MkIIIs with the 50 normal guns vs point blank, nippy Stuarts with the quite effective 37LL. Stephane had a key shot where he just managed to Shock my 9-1 Armour Leader on the 3rd or 4th shot and was then able to maneuver with the ultra-nippy Stuarts and swarm it. By then, I had immobilized 4 tanks, knocked out 4 but had lost 5 and we came down to British Turn 3. I had three of the immobilized Stuarts in the sights of my last 4 tanks and just needed to survive Brit Prep and Movement from his last three mobile tanks. Stephane started by getting the necessary two (of course!) to get one of his tanks back from a UK, but misses and disables it with an IF. He then tries to swarm one of my other tanks with another Stuart, but misses the BFF and the subsequent IF by 1 on the TK. He sends his second active Stuart down my throat and again hits and glances off the BFF shot - now if I can just survive the IF shot, I can probably get at least two of the three tanks I need and make it into German Turn 3...1,1. Multiple, critical hit, Burn. Stephane's at 41 DVP and that was that.

Oh well, we were both in place to win it in this last turn, so I wasn't unhappy. In hindsight, the first turn of Immobilizations was actually not as good as I first thought as they were still tubes firing shells that could hit. I just kept hitting the immobilized tanks and re-immobilizing or shocking them without being able to kill them. We had everything good about armour in this one - tough call IF choices, Multiple hits, crews that survived to crawl another day. Much fun and over in 3 hours so that was that.

Anyway, Stephane is playing Brit in the mini-CG so I will get my revenge then with Rommel's finest as I roll over him all the way to "Alex" - Mwahahahaha!!!

Nick Drinkwater

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