Friday, July 13, 2007

Tourney Game 5 AAR - HP28 A Meaningful Diversion

Nick Drinkwater

German, Italian: Nick Drinkwater [ELR 4, SAN 3]

British: Bud Garding [ELR 4, SAN 4]


Second time out for me in the Heropax after my mauling at the hands of
Gillisov in Ligneuville Halt a month ago. This time its Anzio in early
1944 against a gentleman, in the true sense of word, from Kansas, Bud
Garding. We both wanted something slightly bigger than small, but
smaller than medium and this 6 turner (?) seemed to fit the bill nicely.
With no real 'wish-list' to play from either of us, we just trawled
through Bud's scenarios, saw this one with a mixed force of Germans and
Italians vs the Brits and rolled for sides. Very easy, and no checking
ROAR either (in fact I didn't check ROAR all weekend), though it
turns out it was 0-8 in the British favor! Luckily, as the dice turned
up showing me with the always difficult challenge of winning with
Italians, I didn't know this and we carried on anyway.

Pre-Game Thoughts:

This scenario is played lengthwise on Boards 18 and 24 and the valley is
in play, so there's actually quite a lot of terrain in this game for the
British to defend - stone houses everywhere, but SSR means that many of
the stone buildings in Board 24 are replaced by two large marsh
overlays. SSR means no roads are in play and that all movement by
vehicles costs an extra 1MP to cross a hexside - it will be a long slow
crawl to get off this one, and there will be no help from any Smoke
either which is also prohibited by SSR.

To win, the Germans have to exit 20 Infantry-only CVP off the back edge
by game end and they are given a tasty force to do this: 6 onboard 548s,
a 9-2, MMG, a hero, a LMG and a 75 non-emplaced RCL. In turn 2, a force
of 6 x 447 Italians appear with a FT amongst their toys and a 9-1
leader, and they are supported by a Stug IIIg and Stuh42. Finally, a
small force of 3 x 548 and another 9-1 can choose to enter along either
of the flanks on Turn 4 to slightly bypass any forward British defenders
and help with the push to the end.

To defend against this motley crew, the British are forced to spread
their forces thin across the width of both boards. Bud has a mixed force
of 457s, 458s (approximately 10 squads I think), a MMG, three PIATs,
some good and abundant British leadership and a hero. They are supported
in Turn 3 by the presence from the back edge of two Sherman IIas which
by then will know exactly what the Germans are going to do and where
they are going to go. Bud has to set up dispersed and he does all the
sensible options of entrenching guys on the Board 18 hilltops and
scattered among the various villas and woods both above and within the
Board 24 valley.

Looking at this, I really don't like the approach options to get through
Board 24 at all - it will be a long, hard choking slog through all the
marsh, brush and village but which will also involve moving along some
really exposed causeways through the marsh too. Not pretty. On the other
hand, trying to assault over and across the Board 18 Drumlin field also
has its own peculiar lack of charm as I will be brutally exposed in both
the initial setup and in the climb up and over in some very open ground.

Despite this, I think this route potentially offers more approach
options as if I can puncture the British line, the ridges are then going
to shelter me from a lot of shots from the valley and I can bypass a
chunk of Bud's force, hopefully pretty quickly. The initial two or three
turns out in the open are going to be critical however, and I may have
to suffer some pain first. Bud also has 24 factors of AP mines, but
those are just one of those things I just can't sweat...if they are
there, they are there and I can't do anything about them - to reduce
casualties, I will be using a half-squad blitz anyway and that's
probably my best protection against that threat.


Turn 1, first defensive shot from Bud's light mortar and he crits one of
my paratrooper squads to a half-squad. OK, that's not so good.
Hopefully this won't be a sign of things to come...

Well, it wasn't. I have to say now that I right royally diced the crap
out of Bud for the entire remainder of the scenario. I just couldn't
fail. I pushed straight up and over the outlying hill without a scratch,
I got the Italian Flamethrower (?!) running in no time and started to
reduce the defenders, I pushed an Italian half squad straight up a
lateral road into the face of a British squad in the backline: 1 MC.
Result? Surrender? Hero? No - Berserk! EVEN better - these guys just
went through that British squad like a knife through better and even
managed to whack their victims in CC! Italians!

Elsewhere, I continued to grind on forward, generated another hero and
went fanatic - all the more to hurt Bud with! At one point he had one
die-hard squad on the last frontal hill that refused to break either to
the Italian flamethrower or a hero led stack. Problem? No problem! Bud's
dice will take care of that...rolls a 3 on a MC, generates my sniper,
sniper falls straight on top of the problem squad and breaks them.
Problem gone away. Two shots later: I'm worried about a 9-1 and 457 that
can interdict my escaping forces...Problem? No problem! Bud's dice will
take care of that...rolls a 3 on a MC, generates my sniper, sniper falls
straight on top of the leader, kills him and breaks the squad with him.
Problem gone away. Next problem: I have a Sherman tank sat on one my
escape routes just waiting to grind me up...Problem? No problem! Get the
Italians to use a Captured PIAT to toast the tank!! (Mundo style points
for that one...). And off we all merrily hop for a nice win.


Due to the tough terrain configuration, it was very difficult for Bud to
get his Board 24 forces lateral to impede me - the few that did were
easily held off by the Germans and I think I was able to exit the entire
Italian order of Battle from the Board - possibly an ASL first?!! My
only casualty in the entire game was from that CRed German para squad
from the Crit with the Mortar in Turn 1 and a dead hero who sucked up
some fire doing some hero-ey thing - the rest were not scratched. In
contrast, I was able to burn both tanks and at least two-thirds of the
British infantry were dead or prisoners by the end, it was that bad.

My only failure weapon in the entire game was the RCL which gallantly
strived to hit anything, but continuously managed to achieve nothing.
What about the mines, you ask? What mines? Unluckily for Bud, at the
last minute he's swapped his mines around as he thought the Board 24
force needed some more help so scattered them in the obvious choke
points there, having removed them from the same pathway at the base of
the hill that I subsequently funneled all my forces through - as he said
at the time, once you've placed 'em, leave them - your reasons were good
the first time!

So, I move to 3-2 for the tourney and 2-0 lifetime against Kansas (all
of it). One against the odds for an Axis win. Deserving of a 0-8 record
for the Brits? Balanced? I haven't a clue. It was one of the freakiest
games of ASL I have ever played so its hard to know - this was surreal
and my hugest sympathy goes out to Bud who took this one squarely on the
chin with exceptional grace: no-one deserved that kind of treatment and
it felt like a bit of a mercy winning at the end. I can certainly see
why it would be hard for the Axis to win this particular scenario as
they have an unrelenting assault over very open ground into the teeth of
the dispersed, non cowering British defense, but if they do punch a hole
through then they have a good shout at winning this, assuming the
casualties have been light in the run-in. I would definitely steer clear
of the valley if played again – it looks better protected for the
Axis, but the approaches are actually more open than the hill approach,
and it would perhaps be a long slow slog through the marsh and dense
village with a tough gradual retreat by the Brits – I could easily
envisage the Axis just running out of time on that side.

I've now played two Heropax scenarios, the first having a hint of
the canine, and this one, with a very odd resolution, but compared to
many other older Critical Hit efforts, these packs look like they are
quite fun, and I may obtain them in the future.

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