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.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the game and cold beer, Nick. As we discussed last night, life and work have just about pushed out ASL. So, it really feels good that we squeezed last night's game in. It was just a basic scenario-- nothing amazing. But, again, to two guys who don't get much time for ASL, anything is sweet music.

Regarding the lone 7-0 and his precious load of prisoners: I couldn't resist cracking the RB when I got home last night to read up on escape. It was late, so maybe I got it wrong, but here is how I understand it:

If my leader would have died, your unarmed freed unit would not have been good order until re-armed. Re-arming only happens if the enemy unit that was just killed equals or exceeds in size to the unarmed unit. Hence, my unarmed SMC would not have re-armed your squad-sized unit and you would not have gained possession of that trench.

In your last turn, this unit could have attempted to re-arm itself at the end of it's MPh (guess they look around for dropped weapons, or make bows and arrows out of twigs... not sure). You would have had to roll a DR of 2 (no mods). Once re-armed as a conscript and gaining possession of the trench, you could have then advanced into the adjacent foxhole for the win.


Anonymous said...

This was some additional post-game dialog whick Ken and myself had - more rules basics for dummies, but it may serve a purpose!

First off, AAR Errata:

German ELR is 3.
Russians start with 4 x 447 (and not 2), not that it did me any good as 3 of the 4 all reduced to conscripts on their first shot they received!

Anyway, on to the rules re escaped prisoners and reclaiming:

Checked up - you were right...need to be good order and armed to control anything (building, hex, location) so I would definitely have needed to find a '2' from behind my ears to re-arm to win!

Oh well, more small ASL lessons in life!



NRBH, but I am wondering if 'good order' status applies only to possession of the guns, as required by the VC? Control of foxholes / trenches are down to the normal A26 control roles - the question here is it whether merely the presence of one of my units is enough to claim control, irrelavant of whether they are Good Order or not - we'll need to check that in the Control rules. Anyway, indeed a good learning lesson!