Monday, April 02, 2007

AAR: SP138 - Lacking Coordination

Zeb Doyle

After last week's anomalous results, testing of my 'precision' dice continued at the Gerstenberg Institute of Higher Research. Early trials with the mass spectrometer were inconclusive, and bombarding them with alpha particles also failed to yield any insights. Baffled, we decided to test the dice further in the scenario SP138 Lacking Coordination, with Eric's dice establishing the baseline parameters against which the precision pair could be compared.

The appeal of SP138 is that it's a late-war combined-arms battle, with 8.5 British squads, two Achilles (with the nice 76LL gun), and a small horde of funky armored cars backed by some 140mm OBA trying to hold a village without taking many losses from the onslaught of 15 weak SS squads (4-4-7s and 5-4-8s, who can ELR), three Tigers, and some OBA of their own. It's a fun mix of troops, there's the added appeal of playing on the fresh new boards x and w, and the way the Germans have a staggered entry and aren't allowed to use their OBA until turn three does a really nice job of simulating an uncoordinated attack without any clunky SSRs. But would this very nice-looking scenario stand up to my dice stress test?

Things started normally enough with Eric's SS cautiously entering the board and working their way forward. There was some fun cat-and-mouse action over the first few turns as the Germans tried to avoid my OBA as much as possible and get their 9-1/2x 4-4-7/MMG/LMG kill stack in position to threaten my OT Achilles. Things got interesting when an 8-1 and two 4-4-7s decided to brave my OBA harassing fire and advance into a wooden building in the blast zone. The 8+2 resulted in an NMC, and Eric box-carred the check for both his squads. The 8-1 tried valiantly to rally the 2-3-6s in the next turn, but his efforts went for naught as the OBA came in again and rolled snake-eyes, followed by a subsequent dr of 1, turning the building to rubble and wiping the whole stack out. Working hypothesis: my dice roll low, Eric's roll high.

Meanwhile, the SS kill stack had won the opening round with my Achilles and scared them into redeploying where all those machine guns couldn't see them. That opened things up a bit for the Tigers, who rumbled forward to take on some poorly positioned armored cars. The first Tiger opened up, only to malf its MA. The second Tiger scored a hit (on one of those double small 1/1 AF early war British relics that's about as well armed and lighter than my VW Jetta) and rolled a dud. We carefully checked the rules in case the shock of impact might knock the armored car back a hex, and although that wasn't the case, it managed to slip away to safety during its MPh. After that, we were questioning the laws of physics, but our working hypothesis was holding true.

Al those box cars really swung the initiative over to me, and I took advantage by driving my armored cars into the German backfield to re-DM some stacks of SS that had been broken by the artillery. The malfed Tiger MA really hurt here because it meant that there was nothing Eric could do about it. You may be wondering, given that the scenario takes place in 1945, why the good order German infantry I drove past didn't try a PF attempt or two. It turns out that Eric's dice are pretty good at rolling box cars, but they are VERY VERY good at rolling 6s on PF checks. Six 6's on the first ten attempts really let my vehicles operate with complete freedom.

That put the burden of the assault squarely on the two Tigers that still had working MAs. Eric found a dominating spot for the first one, with the caveat that it would have to spend 1MP in the LOS of an Achilles to get there. The risk was taken, the dice were rolled, and the low-odds APDS shot blew the turret off. The other Tiger then moved up, again spending a single MP in LOS and this time forcing a turret swing. Result: CH, ROF, burning wreck, Germans reduced to one Tiger without an MA, working hypothesis upgraded to theory.

As you might imagine, that put the burden of the attack back on the German infantry. They had rallied and regrouped and were now ready to push past the Achilles of death to get into the village. This would give the Achilles some decent shots, but an OT vehicle with a 4Fp AAMG and HE7 isn't the ideal infantry killer...normally, anyway. The first SS half-squad began the charge, only to be cut down by the AAMG. Next up was a 5-4-8. Result: CH, ROF, 24-2, KIA. Undaunted, a 4-4-7 moved forward: CH, ROF, 24-2, KIA. That left only a HS standing, and figuring I couldn't do it again, Eric brought him into LOS. He was right...not wanting to waste HE, I fired an AP shot: hit, NMC, box car, dead HS, theory upgraded to law.

Killing an entire platoon like that really smashed the German attack, but playing Eric is like being in one of those cheesy horror flicks: the guy just won't stay dead. He managed to fix the MA on his last Tiger and tore into town, finally managing to kill off some of my armored cars. Only my immense luck in the early and mid-game saved me. I was able to send my remaining vehicles to the far side of the town and hide them and Eric just ran out of time. Although the Germans didn't come close to capturing enough buildings, they did end up with 23 of the 35 CVP required for an instant victory. Had just one of those PF checks gone right earlier, it would have been a very tight game even with my great luck.

Anyway, another fun time at the Gerstenberg Research Institute, even if my good dice and Eric's truly horrible luck have made for some less exciting action than normal of late. I think the results of the testing are that I'm going to keep my dice and adapt a far more risky style of play and Eric is giving his dice away...if he can find any takers. More seriously, rumor has it that some of the Dallas guys have played this one; if true, any comments? I thought it was a fun scenario with some tricky decisions for both sides.

Thanks for reading,


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