Wednesday, August 30, 2006

AAR: J106 - Marders not Martyrs

Tom Gillis

Well as some of you know I spent my Sunday playing ASL. Had a great time as usual too! Played two scenarios, both times as the Russians. Game one was Victor and I squaring off in "Marders not Martyrs" J106. This is a smallish, tourny sized 5.5 turner with defending Germans on bd V. Bd V is going to be in one of the starter kits I guess. It also comes in the new J7. Its a typical euro type bd with a few small lvl 1 hills and some buildings, woods and orchards, and lots of open ground. The German force has just 5 467s, 9-1, 7-0, an HMG, 2xLMGs, 8-1 ArLdr, and 2x(ROF2) Marders with 75Ls and only 1 for AF.

The Ivans have a decent force of 10x447s, 9-1, 8-0, MMG, 2xLMG, and a LtMtr at start. Both sides set up on bd, so no Boresighting for the defending Germans. On turn 1 the Russians get 4xKV tanks with red MPs of 11 and the standard early war 76 MA. Looking over the forces, both Vic and I thought the German force looked kind of brittle. OT AFVs vs. a LtMtr is always bad, and the Russians outnumber the krauts 2/1! Vic was a little nervous before the 1st die roll, looking at my huge force ready to pound him, but I never underestimate him, knowing he is a wily and effectice ASL'er.

I placed all my tanks to enter on the right hand side and spread the infantry pretty much in a line across the front row that I could start at. I (stupidly) placed my mortar in open hill terrain with opening shots on his back row Marders and placed the MMG with the 9-1 and a couple of squads in a building behind my start line. Vic placed most of his troops in some wooden buildings on my left hand side, with just a lone HS on my right behind some woods. Well I thought my Mtr with ROF 3 would start the game putting a hurt on the open topped AFVs. They had even managed to only get one hexside of HD in before game set up, (not that it would matter to indrect fire.) Note to players: Vic did not realize that LtMtrs do get to subtract from the IFT on the Indirect fire chart. So his Marders were not only -1 for being AF less than 4, but also -2 for open top. But it didn't matter...Not only did I not hit with said Mtr, I didn't get ROF. MMG shoots at Germans no effect. Movement phase, no major things, infantry moves into woods on either side of bd, and tanks move cautiously on behind orchards. Only effective DF is Vic shoots and gets a KIA on the manning Mtr squad with a 6-3. Ouch. Already lost the Mtr! No German prep/movement if I recall and no effective Russian DF. Turn 2: MMG shoots at Marders on lvl 1 hill, NE. Movement: I press the attack up the woods on each side but miss an LOS when I move the 8-0 and three squads thru another MMCs hex and overstack! Vic has a 4-1, shoots and of course they all break, with one of them elring to conscript. Good move! Not! Tanks try to move into sneaky firing positions but all I do is get one in ByP that Vic can see, but because of TCA restrictions I can't shoot back. Duh-ski! DF or his Prep see that tank go down, but luckily, the crew escapes. Moving along: there is little German manuveur as they are in good defensive terrain on lvl 1 hills, and wooden buildings. Some small infantry losses on the Russian side but by late turn three I still have three AFVs and 6 or 7 squads. The Marder ROF is murderous. Vic gets lots of ROFs, but I've been pretty lucky with a shocked tank coming back good, and lots of close calls. But suddenly in Turn 4 I lose another KV. My infantry is being broken and elr'd, I can't shoot back and things are looking grim. At one point Vic even suggested we start over as we'd been really playing fast. But this being ASL you never know what can happen. I say no lets play it out, its almost over. Well I get desparate. I really want to get one of those Marders. A 75L gun at this stage of the war is deadly. (Its late 1942.) I send one of my 2 remaining KVs right up to a Marder. Two hexes away so point blank. Vis had shot at him but missed. In AdF I need a three to hit. Not much chance I know.

But mid turn Vic's wife Melissa had brought me a cup of expresso. Now you guys who know me know I love coffee. I guess the energy of the expresso must have transferred into my dice because I roll and presto: a three! Next thing we have is a Marder wreck. Now I move the remaining KV. I really wanted to just get out of the LOS of the other Marder but its going to get at least one shot off before I can. Vic rolls and: boxcars! Vics cursed dice have caught up with him again. My infantry makes slow progress and advances closer to the exit row. His rally phase sees him roll to repair the Marder. If he rolls a 1 he's back in command. If he rolls 2 thru 5, he's hurt, but not out. If he rolls a 6 he's in big trouble. Well Vic rolls and its a 6! Disaster! Within 5 minutes he has gone from almost certain victory to very dire straights. I need 17 EVPs to win. But 3 of them have to be infantry. I'm close to the edge, Vic has no anti-infantry weapons left except CC or CCV. My tanks manuveur to make easy exits but leave their turrets pointed at the enemy. My infantry has to run a gauntlet of firelanes. I have a crew, the two ldrs and about three MMCs close to the exit line. One by one they try. The AFVs exit. There is the points right there except for the fact that three have to be infantry. The 8-0 easily makes it off as he had been able to get behind Vic before he pulled up the FL threat. The crew tries and Vic rolls low and it is eliminated. One of the squads tries and is pinned. Another squad tries the first FL and passes, goes thru the next FL and passes. Vic has to shoot his 9-1/HMG/467 guys. 8-3! He shoots and rolls a 5 or something. Russian Squad is pink mist _and_ Vic retains ROF on the Heavy! Last MMC tries and is broken! Yikes, its all down to the 9-1. With his modifier and his self he is worth exactly what I need in infantry to win. If Vic pins, breaks or KIAs him, thats it game over. Well first FL, he makes it, 2nd FL he makes it! Now Vic has to commit his last hope. HMG ldr directed 6-3. Remember in the early game this same bunch wiped out my Mtr squad on a 6 down three. What's it going to be? Vic rolls and its a '9.' So a 9 on the six column is a 1MC. Can Capt. Ivan pass it? Its been a wild game. At first it looked like a German slaughter. Then Ivan kicks back and luck helps put me back in it. End game Vic crawls back with good positioning of his remaining force. I roll. The dice clatter and land. Its a '5.' Capt Gillisov runs off, leaving his decimated but victorious company behind to join up with the 1st Sergeant and the remaining KVs!

Great game Vic. Neither of us ever gave up and it went down to the final roll. I do think this German force is brittle. If luck hadn't stole the MA from Vic's 2nd Marder it probably would have been a different outcome. We both said 7 (a recommend,) for ROAR. Thanks Vic!

Coming soon my AAR against Chris or Ivan II...


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Pegasus Bridge Campaign - Part II

Ed Beekman

Night III, Sean Harris:British, Ed Beekman:Germans

As reported earlier, Sean and I have been playing CG I of Pegasus Bridge and the AAR on the first two Night scenarios is listed earlier. Here is what happened in the final night scenario.

I figured Sean would have to muscle his way across the bridge. I would have to keep him bottled up as long as possible to prevent him from busting loose all over my side of the canal. To achieve this I set a trap at the bridge exit. A leader and a squad with a MMG were set up in each of the two Café’s that would encircle any units coming off the bridge with point blank fire. I left my conscripts and wounded 6+1 leader in Le Port just in case the Brits got free of the confines of the bridge and ran rampant. I left a mobile reserve near the western crossroads consisting of my last tank and a couple squads with a 6+1 for added MF. Everyone else encircled the bridge and the approach to the crossroads to the west.

Sean dug many foxholes along the canal to put flanking fire on the far side. Nothing else could be gathered from his set up due to cloaking.

The Scenario began with Sean trying to blast my defenders out of Café Gondree. The dice were not good for him. His main Prep Fire success was a kill stack south of the bridge breaking one of my LMG squads with good defilade fire capabilities against the bridge. Then, failing to place smoke, he assault moved some units forward. The defensive fire had a squad, MMG and 10-2 adjacent to overstacked squads on the bridge and I ended up getting a 1KIA with ROF. Two rate rolls later the Brits were still had a GO squad there. Sure I killed one squad outright and eliminated another half squad due to double break (they’ll be back later as walking wounded). But Sean rolled snakes on the first ROF attack MC and created a fanatic squad. The on the second ROF attack the fanatics broke but another MMC got snakes and generated a hero.

I spent my first turns skulking. My 10-2 moved into position to rally the broken squad and swap out unconcealed squads with concealed squads in the Café. We were reminded how hard it is to rally units at night since DM is not automatically lost; even the fanatics took a while to rally.

The Brits kept pushing forward and a squad fell into my trap. I encircled and broke a paratrooper squad who surrendered to my troops in Café Picot. After two British turns Sean still did not have any non-prisoners on my side of the canal. But you know ASL and how quick things change…

I was doing my skulk tricks again when a British Starshell lit up my end of the bridge revealing my skulkers. Sean’s most effective kill stack, 3 paratroop squads, 3 LMG and a -1 leader, got on a roll, breaking (including the 10-2!) and pinning every MMC that could reoccupy Café Gondree. On their next turn the Brits charged off the bridge breaking all who stood in their way. The best I was able to do was break an 8-0 leader. I lost a 7-0, MMG and a squad to the Hero and two squads of Paratroops. My turn saw me putting some distance between my troops and Sean’s to prevent my whole position being overrun. I just didn’t like the odds of poorly led 2nd line garrison 4-4-7’s outnumbered about 2:1 by well led 6-4-8 Elite paratroops.

The 10-2 rallied on the first try although none of the two and a half squads with him did. The Brits lit up just about everything with an IR. A little Prep Fire, 12+2 and 16+2 attacks, resulted in no significant effect due to high die rolls. The Paratroops and Hero moved to clear more houses to the west of the bridge and took heavy fire, the Hero wounded and then was eliminated by a second break while a replacement Hero was simultaneously generated. Several squads chased my 10-2 and broken MMC to the south but their AFPh fire DR was a 12(!) and the Germans escaped without further casualties. Amid the houses and orchards several squads Advanced (vs. Difficult Terrain) into CC with a couple of my squads. Luck (I’ll take it over skill any time!) was with me and I got ambush on both rolls. In both cases I chose escape over a glorious death.

As I continued to withdraw, two squads broke – including one casualty reducing to a Conscript HS. Using dummy stacks and one remaining GO squad, I deployed into all approaches to my last rally point along the west road. One unit rallied and generated a Hero who led the withdrawal/retreat back to Le Port. My rearguard fulfilled their goal and all my remaining units successfully escaped into Le Port. The road through the woods into Le Port, occupied by the tank, was the rally point. As an aside, a wounded British 7-0 on the east side of the canal was killed by a Sniper.

Sean started pushing hard up and down the canal road, about a half dozen squads pushed south to keep pressure on the fleeing 10-2 led broken Germans. A smaller group pushed north to try to seize the canal road entry into Le Port. The remainder cleared the way to the western crossroads.

In Benouville, the 10-2 quickly rallied all the troops (including one HS BH to 1st line) and sent them to protect the town’s approaches. I got even luckier, rolling a 1 to end the game at the end of the German Turn 5.

The short clock prevented Sean from really steam rolling me. His pushes up and down the canal would have resulted in strategic gains for him if the game had lasted another turn or longer. He might have established a foothold in the chateau. That could have been a major feat since he could have put a German MMG on the roof overlooking most of the map with an Ox and Bucks squad to man it without captured use penalty! In the north I only had a couple Conscript squads and a wounded 6+1 leader nearby to hold off two 6-4-8s and a 10-2 leader – talk about a mismatch!

During refit Sean scrounged the only not burnt out wrecked H39 to add a German (f) LMG to his OB but had a Para HS turned into Walking Wounded during an Escape. The Brit wounded 9-2 was cured but the German 6+1 remained wounded. A squad of British Paras was marched off to a Stalag.

This scenario could have easily been much worse for the Germans; Sean had some really lousy rolls on several attacks where even average rolls would have lead to PTCs and NMCs. I also avoided crippling casualties when I achieved ambushes to escape melees where Sean would have needed 9 or less and at best I would have needed a 4 or less to inflict casualties. And of course the premature ending of the game was the worst roll for the Brits.

For Dawn, Sean receives a few reinforcements and I get to purchase mine. I’m thinking Infantry and something that can shoot smoke and put some hurt on infantry. I really can’t afford to pay the premium to bring units on further north on the map so I’ll probably buy a Panzergrenadier company and platoon. This will give them time to make the long march toward Le Port. I also like the GSW 39H (f) with its 105 gun (H4, S7). The PzA LrS (f) has more kick with the 150* gun (H4, S8) but its B9 vs B11 for the GSW 39H makes it less worth the cost. Heck it only carried 8 rounds, I don’t think I should spend about a quarter of my CPP to buy one or two vehicles that may only get one or two shots off. That’s at least a CPP per shot that won’t hit the target half the time.

We are looking forward to the sun rising on more action around Pegasus Bridge and will let you know how it goes at a later date.


Friday, August 25, 2006

AAR: SP24 - Forest Fighting in Latvia

Nick Drinkwater

Roll up, roll up! Easy wins on offer! Do you need a confidence inspiring quick victory? Come and play me, now is the time. Roll up, Roll up!

So I'm now 0-5 in my last 5 games of ASL - I'm thinking I may be the new Sam Belcher. Can't beg, borrow or steal a win right now...

German: Ken Havlinek [SAN 2, ELR 4] Russian: Nick Drinkwater [SAN 5, ELR 2].

A fast burning single-evening six turn special in which a reduced company of German Landsers (9 x 467), moderately but numerously led (9-1, 8-0, 7-0) and lightly armed (MMG, 2 x LMG, 1 x ATR) have to sweep through one half of wooded board 34 and take out a really weakly held Russian Trench and Foxhole line and then prevent any Russian Good Order unit from possessing either of two 76mm ART pieces set behind the trench line in a small forest sylvan "glade" (a 3-hex open ground overlay in the middle of the forest). I guess this is the Euro-version of Totsugeki, where life is cheap (Russian conscripts), the fighting is intense (tons of in-your face, point blank fire) and "no retreat" is the order of the day (those guns must be manned!).

Apart from the two guns and their elite crews (elite? Pah! My arse!), these Russians are pretty grim - the ELR 2 is really nasty, and I only have 2 x 447 and 3 x 426, a Lt Mtr (with really limited firing opportunities in this dense forest and a minimum range of three), a couple of LMG, 3 Trenches and 3 Foxholes. The worst thing is the Leadership - a single solitary 8-1 leader and no commissar! It's not all bad - as well as the Gun possession VC listed above, the Germans also have to control three hexes of the at-start trenches and foxholes. And note this is hexes and not counters - as a result I combine the three single foxholes into one three-squad foxhole to reduce the number of easy win hexes for the German....I just don't have the quality or number of forces to spread out and defend a thin foxhole line. Setup limitations mean than four my of squads have to be in the holes and trenches - also I have to set-up on or between hexrow H-J, while the Germans start further to the west in the trees, just two hexes away in row F. The choking forest is actually not as bad as first thought as there are several paths for use for attacking and retreating, and by SSR all forest roads are paths. In an effort to halt easy German flanking moves in the two side clearings, I place a monitoring squad and trench on the north side, and a couple of squads with the Mortar on the south side. The remainder of the trenches and foxholes form a small complex in the middle of the forest adjacent to and in a 'brush' clearing there. The leader and the LMG and a couple of squads stay here to react to whichever way Ken comes on.

In hindsight, this was actually a weak set-up, suffering as usual from the mid-week rush to get something done and finished well before 3am, and I think I over-stengthened the southern side by a squad, while the northern side was understrength. I hadn't realised that set- up restrictions prevented Ken from setting up all the way to the south edge of the board, and so he was always more likely to come from the north and centre. Also, my 3S foxhole was one hex too far forward and was too easily taken by a brutal frontal attack. Live and learn I guess. Anyway, Ken set-up primarily north and centre with a small platoon flanker detailed to try the southern approach. He quickly bumped off my one dummy and then walked into my northern sole outpost squad - a brave 447. These guys put up a great fight, took off a 247 in CC and weathered it all the way to Turn 3 before going down on a 12 +3. The delay job they had done was cool though. They even helped some more, as once broken and reduced (of course - ELR 2!!), Ken misplayed a move and they were able to run away backwards, instead of being FTR'ed, and then tied down a couple more squads while they chased them down.

In the middle though things were horrible as per usual. I could not inflict any damage at all with my usual high rolls (several 8+1 and 12+1 shots either missed or shrugged off) and two more squads broke and also disrupted on the first shots they received), usually 6+1 or 12 +2 return shots. I tried to play it cagey with concealment in places but again, concealment always was lost with a return NMC result and then a follow-up shot saw more Russian prisoners. In Turn 3, both my brave northern guys and my supposed strongpoint succumbed in two consecutive shots and so it was time to run back to the guns, as the way in was now wide open. In Turns 4-5 Ken cautiously pushed on rounding up the Russian escapees and I thought he'd blown it as he only came into the Gun sights in his Turn 5 - he didn't want to be in the forest at the edge of the 'glade' taking shots from those two guns (ROF 1) for too long. We spent a few minutes scrabbling through the rule book to make sure we had the mechanics and timing of SW recovery and possession worked out properly (even a Gun possessed by the sole Russian leader was enough for me to win), and of course, I had last turn so I could move and recover them, and if I survived DF, would win.

Anyway, it never quite came to that. On Turn 5 he moved adjacent in three hexes to one of the guns having blasted out and then captured my last speed bump squad in the forest. At this point I had the two guns, and behind them a 447, 8-1 and LMG and next to them a solitary script. Now came my one turn of good shooting: the gun fired, hit one adjacent squad (not the two concealed units there), but they shrugged off the 1MC. Desperate times call for desperate measures so the IF was taken - the guns just need to be possessed, not working...good shot, broke a squad, pinned a squad. Fire from the other gun against an adjacent concealed unit was ineffective due to a change of CA (+3 as these ART guns are not on fast turntables), but I decided to retain fire here for the final round. Shots across the glade from the 8-1 stack broke another squad, but there was still enough German presence there to do damage. And of course, they did. Two average shots later against the emplaced guns (8+2 and 8+1), and both crews were routing back having rolled 9 and 11 on the resultant NMC at their first time of asking. Typical!!!

In Russian T5, to win I now had to advance my two surviving infantry squads onto the Guns and then try and recover them in Rally phase of German T6 - unfortunately my single conscript squad had also pinned (a big result at this point of this game), so the 447 went and found one gun, while the 8-1 went for the other. I successfully recovered them, and even shot up a squad that assault moved point blank in the open in German T6 Defensive Fire, but the 447 squad went down in a hail of gunfire and the 8-1 went down in a 8:1 CC - Ken needed to roll lees than an 11 (he rolled a 6) , but I couldn't hurt him anyway (needed a 1 or less), and there was no point in withdrawing as I'd lose possession of the gun. As I needed to be good order and not in CC to win, that was that. Game over - good win Ken!

Interestingly, I had one very close moment which could have been very SAN of 5 had successfully missed 7 times in a row (kind of normal), but the eighth was (almost) crucial - Ken had a single 7-0 guarding a full squad of prisoners in the backfield line in the Trench complex. Horror of horrors, the sniper was actually warm (2), and if the wound die-roll came in on my side, my prisoners could have escaped and been off and running, recollecting foxholes in my Turn 6 and with little that Ken could do to stop it....momentary look of panic on Ken's face when he realises the enormity of this!

Da-dumm....dice roll please for the's a 2! Darn it. Ken may have had a single shot at the 'scapies before they disappeared off into the forests collecting mushrooms, but even if they'd failed the MC, they'd only CR to a HS which would have been plenty to get the holes back! Oh well, it wasn't to be and that would have been a cheap win if ever there was one, but hey, I'm cheap!

Good all infantry, single-evening scenario. With work and family commitments for both of us, these are good sized things for us to play, as we can't start until 8.30pm and neither of us really want to go any later than 12.30 - 1.00am, so the SP packs are ideal. Also, we have very infrequent playing schedules so we're always a bit rusty when we next play - thus we try and steer clear of things with really complex VC or SSR as we will no doubt miss the importance of them in some fundamental way which will flaw the scenario. This was good M & P ASL and much fun - we both felt this was a little bit tougher for the Russians than the Germans (its a really tasty force for them), especially with only the single leader and the ELR of guys just melted. Perhaps a squad or half-squad less for the Germans may have equalled things out a bit. My biggest problem was inflicting any kind of damage on the Germans - I delayed them well in parts but when it came to the Turn 5 and 6 end game, Ken had only lost a single half- squad but I was down almost 50% of my squad base and there was way too much German FP to withstand that. Also, I really should have thought more about the Mortar - that should have been at the back of the 'glade' firing across it into Germans in the trees and hurting them, but instead it got lost up front somewhere without doing anything. A rare thing this one...a Schwerpunckt scenario that perhaps is a bit more unforgiving of defensive slips than the attackers for once.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed that AAR - if anyone else has played it, I'd welcome comments.