Thursday, July 26, 2007

AAR: A71 Patton's Prayers

Steven Miller

Americans: Tom Gillis
Germans: Steven Miller

Tom and I gave this one a try last Saturday. It pits a reasonably good sized/mixed force of Americans trying to clear a road from a company of Germans. They are attempting to open up a path to the Bastogne pocket during the Battle of the Bulge. The Americans have eight squads (6-6-7's), four leaders (8-1's being the best), seven halftracks (two are the types loaded with extra MG's and a squad), two "Jumbo" shermans and two 76L type Shermans. The ground snow conditions and the short amount of turns (five) mean the Americans can not waste any time getting into the village and clearing the road from board edge to board edge. The boards used are 6 and 3 put together side by side. The Germans have a company from the 5th Fallschirmjager Division. They are not, however, the quality paratroopers of early war glory. They are mostly expendable sailors and luftwaffe personel culled from rear area forces to create the divisions needed for Hitler's Wacht am Rhein offensive. They have four 4-6-7's, four 4-4-7's, four 4-3-6's, four leaders (an 8-1 is the best), two MMG's, four LMG's and a panzerschreck. The good guns and armor the Americans have on some of the shermans is somewhat wasted as the Germans have no armor or AT guns available. The Germans do have panzerfausts which always seem to make a spectacular wreck when they hit.

On the first turn Tom approached the village from the south ,with about half of his forces, getting into position to unload MG's (one a 50 cal.) from the halftracks into the chateau on board 6. From there they could keep most of the Germans fairly well pinned down in the village. With the rest of his troops (except for one halftrack and a squad) he ran down a road that entered the village from the east. In their way was a small outpost of Germans (two squads with the Psk) with the sole purpose of slowing him up enough and forcing him off the road. They did force him off the road but as far as slowing him up...I don't think they did that much more than the snow would have! They rolled a 6 on the panzerfaust try and the Psk had a major miss. In the ensuing fire fight both Germans broke, one surrendered and they dissappeared from any effect on the game. One lone halftrack he sent over the hills and throught the woods around to the west side of the village. On turn two Tom set up his firebase in the chateau and positioned his tanks to blast the only level two building in the village I had, which is where my MMG's were. He was able to place smoke on the building and with the threat of HE coming soon I left the upper levels to the safty of the ground. A lone 4-4-7 repeatedly survived several turns of Tom's attacks, passed it's morale checks and managed to absorb up enough of Tom's fire to spare others from getting attacked. Finally they did break and opened up the door for Tom to enter the village from the north. During all of this Tom managed to have two tanks malfunction their main armament. He rolled two "12's" in a row! One of them was eventually recalled. He also immobilized a third tank on ESB. The lone halftrack approaching from the west was stunned by my MMG's in the building. Losing those vehicles from the assault certainly did not bode well for him. From the east Tom's constant pressure got him over the hill and into the village. It came down to the last turn. It looked good for me. I had three stacks of units, in the village, in position to deny him control of the road. I also had one lone conscript squad, concealed, sitting in a woods by the road at the exit hex. We will get back to him later. In his turn Tom was very effective with his fire and movement. He got all three of my stacks locked into melee effectively taking them out of the game. My only good defensive fire was blasting a tank with a panzerfaust. It now did not look good for me. Now we get back to the 4-3-6 hiding in the woods. Ten of the worst troops the Wehrmacht had to offer were all that stood between Tom and victory. During the final assault on the village Tom manages to capture some of my troops. Of course he interrogates them. What do they do? Why of course they give up the location of their comrades hiding in the woods. The squad I was putting my last hope on now loses their concealment and stands out for all to see. I see it as the Kreigsmarine dregs ratted out the Luftwaffe slackers in some sort of navy/air force rivalry. My squad does rise to the occasion however. With the vengeance of one betrayed he gets a panzerfaust and toasts one of Tom's halftracks. He passes his morale checks from Tom's three attacks on him and by the slimest of margins I win the scenario. The game just reinforces what we all know about ASL. It is never really over until the last turn and the last roll of the dice. It did not look good for Tom and he came back very well and almost won. If he would have had the preverbial "one more turn", I'm sure he would have won. The next scenario we are going to try is CELLES MELEE (OA7) from the Out of the Attic package. It has some interesting options for the Germans. They have to accumulate A LOT of VP (casualty and/or exit) but they can exit some troops right away on turn one that the Americans can not stop. The bad part however is that they may need those troops on the board.

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