Friday, July 13, 2007

Tourney Game 6 AAR - AP4 L'Abbey Blanche

Nick Drinkwater

German: Nick Drinkwater [ELR 5, SAN 2]

American: Cory Sosabee [ELR 4, SAN 3]


On to the last game of the weekend for me, played on Sunday morning.
Corey is a nice, quietly spoken and very patient guy from Dallas –
it was a pleasure to play him and even better, this one went right to
the wire in an absolute nailbiter. As the crowd had thinned out
considerably by then, we were both looking for something small and quick
playing as we both had significant drives home that afternoon. Cory was
keen to try the tactical challenge offered by L'Abbey Blanche, a
small, but interesting scenario from the first of the Action Packs put
out by Avalon Hill in the late 90's, set on the mythical Board 42.

Pre-Game Thoughts:

We diced for sides and I got the easy job of trying to kick the
American's out – Cory had the much tougher task of trying to put
me back in to my place and design a killer, stop them dead in their
tracks defense amongst the dense bocage and orchards in the summer of
44. SSR meant that the big pond was covered by orchard overlay which
provided a great but obvious approach route on the right side.

To win this, I had to exit a minimum of 16 infantry-only CVP off the
back edge in 5.5 turns. Nice and straightforward then. Not so. The real
kicker is that for every CVP the US inflicts on me, I have to add one to
my exit CVP level…OUCH! Talk about a dire need for force
preservation – every VP counts and even the loss of a measly
half-squad counts. From the OOB, Matt told me that if lose 6VP or more,
I can't win – great! This one has to be approached with much
caution and keep the -1/-2 shots to a minimum.

The big problem I have is that every single US unit starts HIP! This
alone almost guarantees that the Germans HAVE to come on through the
big, right sided orchard patch instead of the more open left side, which
makes Cory's job a lot easier. Cory is given a single 666, a 336
half-squad, 2 x 228 crews, 2 x 126 crews, a 9-1, 8-0 and 7-0, 3 x MMG, 1
Bazooka and 24 AP Mines to play with. In addition, he is given two of
the 76L AT Guns to stiffen everything up – it doesn't look a
lot, but like everything the real threat lies in the unseen part of the
OOB. SSR means that single leaders can throw out 1FP attacks like
leaders, and even these lowly shots could hurt me on the CVP cap issue,
so I need to take care.

I shouldn't complain too much as my own force is really tasty –
it consists of 10 x 658s, a 9-1, 8-1, 2 x 7-0, MMG, 3 x LMG, 1 PSk, 1 x
DC and 2 of the 75* HT, but as stated I have to be really wary of the
CVP cap here. Ideally, I'm really going to need the HT to throw some
Smoke around and also to be a useful block to any tricks from exit-row
firelanes that Cory may be planning – clearly I'm going to need


So, all that said, my first move is brainless and in the first Defensive
Fire I drive both half-tracks right in front of the hidden AT Gun and
they are both reduced to smoking wrecks. Oh-KAY. That's the end of
that plan then. Staring imminent disaster in the face, I do a quick PMC
and push on – my 9-1 and a 658 end up straight in the first
minefield at the front of the orchard, and then they get whacked hard as
the first MMG drops cover and shreds them – down a half-squad and
its Turn 1. Great. Big PMC test here. Keep pushing on, and walk on into
another minefield, then find a third the hard way too – only two 12s
on the effects rolls save my bacon here. Eventually, I wake up and
search out the last minefield hex, but its been painful as another
half-squad is dead.

I am however, pushing hard into the walled compound on the right and
able to force back the crew and MMG plus a 7-0 and 9-1 leader, and also
kill the Gun crew in CC – the limited LOS due to bocage is actually
proving to be friend and I'm getting a great refresher on claiming
wall advantage. Cory then springs the next part of the trap and shows
the 667 and MMG in a flanking shot where he unluckily fails to hurt me
significantly. I luckily whack him with an AFPH snakes on Assault Fire
and he has to recoil broken backwards. From this I continue to push on
through the walled compound, kill off the 7-0 for FTR, but the 9-1 and
the rallying crew with MMG escape into the backwood.

The removal of the squad with the MMG opens up an opportunity to me to
punch a couple of squads diagonally through the woods – all going
swimmingly until I walk point blank in front of the other AT Gun on a
woods / road hex. I get lucky and only break, and at the same time I
have pushed hard through the main part of the woods with all my other
squads. We're now in the last turn and a half and every move is
critical. I still have the numbers to do it, but Cory has a line of
broken, rallying and unbroken units in every hex – tricks like
Infantry OVR aren't going to work here due to the costs involved. I
bump concealment from his hs and a MMG and then assault move my 8-1 and
a squad adjacent – Cory breaks both! No worries, they'll rally
in Turn 6 and be ready for the rush. I also am bale to kill off the
other Gun crew in CC and open up the woods road for the last turn dash.

The last US movement turn is not so good – Cory rallies a crew and
worse, is able to rally his 666 with the MMG which is now in MY
backfield. Oh. He also survives a batch of heavy defensive fire with
only a pin on a crew with MMG and 8-0 leader adjacent to the outermost
woods hex – I really needed that one to break! On the left side, the
only threat he will be able to offer is a 9-1 leader, but that can still
dish out a 1FP Residual attack and I am awful when it comes to passing
those… Most worryingly, the 666 and MMG self-rally and come running
back to DM my 8-1 and half-squad, which is exactly not what I need for
Turn 6. Cory quite correctly spends a lot of time thinking about and
planning how he wants everything in place for the last turn rush, and
does everything I would have done. All is ready.

Things are still looking good for me – we carefully tot up who is
still alive, who needs to rally, and what margin for error there is and
I think I am least one squad to the good. Then a massive disaster
strikes in my Turn 6 rally: my 8-1 goes and rolls boxcars and then
shoots himself – a tragedy in itself, but that means I have to now
get off 19 CVP – stupid fool! It now becomes supercritical that the
broken squad blasted by the hidden gun self-rallies - thank heaven they

Quickly, I move all the easy stuff that is no imminent danger with few
worries, including the odd outlying squad or two through the grainfield.
I then get a couple of more difficult squads past the lone 9-1
leader's 1 FP attack on the left flank, and I am quickly at 17CVP
offboard. However, since the 8-1 is dead, I now have one squad left to
get the victory and zero margin for error. This squad has to move
through trees adjacent to the MMG crew that only pinned – he takes
the first 8-flat shot, loses rate, Cory rolls a 9 and I must take the
Pin check – passed with an 8! PHEW!

Cory then declares Sustained Fire on the Second Movement Point, and
rolls a 7 for a second pin check….

The tension is horrible – 9 or more and I suck on the bitter taste
of defeat, 8 or less and its gold medals all around.

Throw the dice….a six!

Victory at the very death.


My heavens, this was a close one…we had a crowd of onlookers
watching us at this point and you could feel the tension in the air. All
or nothing, but I managed to win on passing two successive pin checks.
It was brutal on Cory as he had played a masterful defense and I had
pretty much wandered into every trap all the way – well played by
him and I felt really pleased to have scraped this one out as it really
made me work after the farce with the two half-tracks in Turn 1. We
really stretched all the first fire, wall advantage, bocage and
concealment options and this is a great primer for anyone who wants to
learn up on all of these. It turned into a classic and an excellent
game. England international cricketer Ashley Giles has been known to
refer to those really, really close cricket matches as
"arse-nippers" – this was arse-nipping indeed.

I can easily see how this could easily blow out – if handled
incorrectly, the SS could blow straight throw the Americans with little
problems as they are an extremely strong force. On the other hand, I
could easily see you could easily blow it as the SS to a bad sniper and
the loss of a key unit or two would push you straight over the CVP cap.
However, if both players take it carefully and either of those two
situations could be avoided then it will turn into a
`to-the-wire' special where every single firepower and every
single movement factor will count.

Awesome, and the best game I played all weekend.

So 4-2 overall for the weekend and I have had an absolute blast. Six new
players as opponents and some great new friends and excellent memories
to add to that. Once again, thanks to Rick for his unstinting efforts
and hope to see you all again next year for some more!

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