Saturday, September 29, 2007

AAR: AP18 - Village of the Damned

Nick Drinkwater

Axis Player: Zeb Doyle [ELR 2; SAN 3]

Russian Player: Nick Drinkwater [ELR 3; SAN 3]


The final game of the ASL-bounty we indulged in this weekend had to be a fast and furious scenario that we could finish in 3-4 hours as I needed to be back in Houston. As Zeb, remarked we couldn't go a whole weekend without trying something that was hot off the presses and the Action Pack from MMP, "A Few Returned" offered up this juicy morsel which was just perfect for us.

Axis Review:

After I had been on the receiving end of a defensive drubbing in our previous scenario, Zeb gamely tried the challenge of the ultimate in lost causes - a bunch of wounded and weak Italians and Germans stranded and stranded in a tiny hamlet in the snows of Southern Russia. This is a very desperate bunch - completely abandoned by their colleagues, this forlorn group tries to go down to the last bullet taking as many of the communist horde with them as they can. Their task is to have one surviving MMC in the board 48 village (between hexrows U and J) at the end of 4.5 turns.

They receive one Italian elite squad, three Italian first line and three conscripts. Even in these very desperate hours, the Germans were clearly still miffed and blaming Tuscany's finest for the nightmare they are living through as SSR means that no Germans can stack with an Italian at game start - the Germans are a scraggly force of a 467 and and two 247s and an 8-0 leader. This really is the bottom of the barrel time as there is only one SW in the entire Axis OOB, a solitary Italian LMG. Finally, to rub salt into the numerous wounds, three Italian and two German squads need to be nominated as walking wounded, and the Italian 9-2 is also wounded at game start. Ouch!

Russian Review:

The Russians really only have two problems in this scenario - a very scary wide open set of approaches to the village and the question of the time available to get the job done. Despite the completely awful state of the Axis, it is eminently possible that a single diehard Axis half-squad will remain tucked away somewhere to hold out for a win. The VC require an unbroken MMC to be alive at game end (and not good order) so even being stuck in Melee results in an Axis win. The Russians do have a very robust force to achieve the task, with two 458s, 8 x 447s, a MMG, 2 x LMGs and a 9-1, 8-0 and a 6+1. In addition they have been given the luxury of a couple of 237s to act as first fire soak-ups in the initial approach to the village. Finally, they can come on from three sides (north, east and south) and this does need to be considered carefully when planning the assault.

Scenario attractions:

A couple of extra bits of chrome have been added which give this scenario a nice final twist. The Russians and Germans both receive winter camouflage to use in the ground snow, but its unlikely I'll be doing much assault moving concealed here due to the time element - there are a lot of buildings in the Board 48 village spread all over the map. Next, the Russians get a radioed T60 M42 - normally not a tank to inspire terror in one's opponents, but in this scenario for the Axis, this is like a communist Nuclear Bomb. The potential for armoured assault and the fabulous opportunities to cut route paths and enforce FTR are obvious and the Russians should be licking his lips with glee at the thought. To dig out particularly difficult Italians, the Russians are also provided with one opportunity to declare Hand to hand combat - maybe needed at the very death to try and guarantee the destruction of the very last MMC.

Finally, the last interesting twist is that two blazes get placed in wooden building from a centrally placed Random direction DR. The mild breeze and resultant Smokes will create all sorts of opportunities for both the attack and the defense. In this game, the blazes ended up in some of the eastern-most buildings, one of which had no impact at all on the scenario. The other did help my approach from the east, but the burning building also impeded my entry as my infantry had to skirt around the blaze in the open. Your mileage and hence the Russian assault options will vary a lot depending on the results of this SSR, and this is one of the cool things that will add to the scenario's replay value.


I put the tactical flexibility of the multi-route approach to the test by sending a platoon and the 6+1 to the far northern side to put pressure on Zeb's hard-pressed defenders from behind. This was where the German "?" stacks were, but through shielding by a small hedge and an orchard, I had a modicum of cover and I was able to run hard and fast across the snow-blown field. At worse, I thought I would lose one unit, but Zeb started as he meant to go on and rolled high and I was able to make the partial cover of the hedge intact by Turn 2. The rest of my force came on in the direct and closest direction from the east and quickly revealed two Italian conscripts in the outermost buildings who both cowered on high rolls on their first attacks. In small games on open ground like this where every -1 shot counts, this was the worst possible result for Zeb, and I quickly disrupted and captured them on Turn 1.

This was my first play on Board 48 and Zeb was prescient in his statement that this is commonly seen as a defender's nightmare - the tiny wooden buildings mean there are numerous LOS opportunities in all directions, and skulking, routing and concealment gain are effectively impossible, especially for him due to the units I had managed to get around and into the back of the village. I continued to roll low and strip many of Zeb's units of their concealment and Zeb just kept missing key shots as I inched my way into the village. Having carefully manoeuvred by MMG and 8-1 into position, I was able to shred Zeb's 447 and wounded 9-2 on an opportunity fire attack. This and my invoking of hand-to-hand combat on an obstinate Italian 1st line infantry squad took the wind out of the sails of the defense. This was followed up by some more careful movement to enforce some FTR opportunities (allied to the huge mobility of the T60 tank) and by the end of Turn 3, most of the southern half of the village was in Italian hands and all but one of the Italian squads was dead or safely captured together with the 9-2. The 8-0 and 6+1 though isolated,were still looking to pick fights, but I wasn't too bothered by them and happy to let them do their headless chicken thing (a bit like the Black Knight in the Monty Python Holy Grain movie - "no arms? - come on you b*stard, I'll head butt you!").

All that remained to do in the final two turns was to mop up the German units in the NW corner of the village. At the very back of the village, I locked up a 247 hs in melee with a 447 squad, and a very timely snakes from the MMG broke both of the other 247s in the core of the last quadrant of the village. The defense ultimately came down to the wounded 467 in an isolated house and the aforementioned ongoing melee, which lasted longer than I first planned. I manoeuvred hard to enforce no quarter on the broken German half-squads and to get in a position to take down the 467 who, because of the wound, just missed immobilizing the tank in a freeze bypass position. However, the writing was now on the wall for the Axis, as the ongoing melee finished in a Russian clear-out, and despite sending the 467 berserk, I was able to destroy them with a couple of 16+2 shots. Solid Russian win after 4 turns.


So a fun but quick one, with a bit of replay value due to the variable building blazes which may result in variable Russian approach routes each time. I think it is perhaps a tad harder on the Axis as they are just that little bit less forgiving of a key bad roll or two...once their concealment and dummies are all stripped, Board 48 means they have nowhere to hide and they will inevitably start to go down to a continuous barrage of 4+2, 6+2 and 8+1 rolls from the Russians. If by some miracle, they are able to knock out the Russian tank then they will be in much better shape, but careful Russian play should completely prevent that. If the Russians get stalled or badly knocked about on their way in to the village then they will be pushed to beat the time issue, but it is definitely doable.

Zeb played a very solid game and only missed a couple of small things from what I could see, but he was definitely on the lower end of the luck quotient on some key die rolls. I messed up the use of my leaders as I had a couple of broken squads out of position which I struggled to get back into the action, and probably went with the freeze a turn early, but I was lucky on SW breakdowns and rolled a couple of critical low rolls when needed.

Recommended for single night evening play or for those times when you want to get something squeezed in quickly - 3 hours from setup to shut down.

Nick Drinkwater and Zeb Doyle

AAR: TRBH3 - Cold Comfort

Nick Drinkwater

Japanese Player: Nick Drinkwater [ELR 3 SAN 4]

Australian Player: Zeb Doyle [ELR 4, SAN 2]

Summary and Analysis After the long drawn out agony of crawling through the jungle into the teeth of Zeb's lethal defense in the "Those Ragged Bloody Heroes" Campaign Game, we had a couple of hours to spare, so having nothing else obvious in mind and being completely up to speed on all the small intricicies of the CG and the map, we just pulled out the shortest and fastest playing scenario we could find from the remainder of the TRBH pack. This was "Cold Comfort", a short brutal attack by a company of Japanese sent to destroy a bunch of the Australians who have just entered onto the board into a big kunai field, lining the Kokoda Trail, before they could get established for their final assault on the Gona mission. The action predominantly focusses at the south end of the kunai field either side of the Kokoda trail and in the fringes of neighboring jungle, though the Aussies are not allowed to setup directly in there. No more hacking through the dense jungle for me, which is a huge relief and a much needed change!

To mix things up a but, I opted for the Japanese this time after my painful experiences trying to get the Australians to function in the Campaign Game. All the standard TRBH SSR are in effect (not the CG ones), the only major impact of which was that the Japanese could enter in column and had the option to Banzai whenever they wanted - no Smoke grenades are available to either side, and the Dense Jungle costs 3MF instead of the usual two. Due to the time constraints in the scenario, there was no real option to use the interior jungle as a path. SSR meant that all the Australians had the option to setup in a foxholes (not in jungle) but they had to split their forces into two groups, split either side of the track. To win, the Japanese had to prevent the Australians having a MMC having a LOS to the trail at game end (very unlikely) or claim 7CVP (much more probable).

AAR Australian forces consist of a total of 4 x 457, a 458, 3 x 248, two 127 crews, two 8-1s (one heroic), 2 x LMG and 2 x MTR plus dummies. Zeb recognised the danger of me defeating in detail either one of the two split forces and quickly moved to re-unite the two groups in a massed foxhole "amoeba" in the far SE corner of the map that extended into the light jungle fringe and the solitary hex of bamboo he had access to. Importantly, the entire eastern right hand edge of the kunai field is separated from the jungle by at least one open ground hex, and Zeb's defense meant that I was going to have to cross this. Tricky, but hey, I'm the Japanese and they just shrug off bullets, don't they?

I had a tasty little force of 4 x 447, 4 x 347, a crew, MMG, lt Mtr, 2 x LMGs and a 9-1 and 9-0. With only six turns and a lot of kunai to hack through, I opted to use the bonuses of column movement to leg it down the track as soon as possible. Column rules meant I had to disband as soon as I could see a KEU, but it did bag me a couple me of extra hexes and took Zeb a little bit by surprise. A third of the way down the track, I detailed two and a half 2nd line squads to cross the open ground and to start working their way down the jungle fringe to take on a squad and a "?" stack there. I then sent a couple more half squads to test the outer edge of the foxhole line and get some units to reveal themselves. Two Australian firelines later, and I was off and running with a 'get me closer' banzai from the remainder of the main force - a useful tip from Mr Doyle, who helped me through the Banzai technicalities. This banzai managed to swerve around both firelines and subsequently posed a serious threat to the hard-pressed Aussies. Zeb continued to pick up the odd stripe here and there but my sniper was hyper active and picked off two of his dummy stacks with '1s'. Grrrr. Importantly, another sniper pinned one of his half-squads in the jungle and despite a complete failure of smoke, WP or anything else from the knee mortar and MMG, I was able to wipe out 3VP of units there.

Turn 5 saw me launch my second banzai and this carried me on to the western line of the Aussie holes where they put the defenders into the fight of their lives. Zeb was unlucky with a batch of First and Subsequent First Fire 4, 2 and 1 -2 and -1 shots which left most of my troops relatively undamaged. In addition, after a critical pin of a half-squad from another sniper, I was able to assault the crew (with their now useless SW) and the remnants of the jungle-clearing squads onto the stout defenders of the northern foxhole line. Close combat in Turn 5 saw five separate hand-to-hand melees which was more than enough for me to claim the win on CVP, despite missing a couple of the melees with 'tens'.

Zeb played this one as stoutly as he could and his defense was spot on, but by pulling back and focussing on the far corner, he was left with no real bolt-hole to go to for any broken units. Pinned units were unable to self-break as they had few rout paths as there was no wiggle room, so they died in place in melee. In addition, he at last started to roll high(!) on some of the more critical shots and that made a big difference as he just couldn't do enough damage to the banzais. Even so, I wouldn't have played this any different if I had been in his shoes: an up-front defense would just have gone down faster and mean the Japanese would have been exposed to less shots on the approach. As I'm still fairly new to the Japanese, Zeb very kindly helped with a few rule clarifications (in fact he did that all weekend) and hints on how to do the Japanese, especially on the mechanics of the banzai - huge thanks Zeb!

Overall, I think is a great little PTO-learning scenario, especially for those new to the Japanese. They have access to all their offensive tricks (Banzais, the options afforded by the knee mortar) and its a very short violent scenario that ends up in a mass of melees. There is little chance the Japanese will win on the LOS VC as there are just too many scattered Aussie units around, but the 7CVP is completely achieveable, which makes it 55% pro Japanese in my book...making it 8CVP might actually be a great balance.

Nick Drinkwater and Zeb Doyle

Monday, September 17, 2007

AAR: HS30 The Good Shepherd

Zeb Doyle

Canadians: Zeb Doyle
Germans: Bill Wenzel
It was another fun Saturday in San Antonio, with eight of us arriving at Scott's house to take advantage of his hospitality. We had a good mix of people, and I got to catch up with some old friends like Mike Denson and meet some others for the first time like Forrest. All in all, the experience was well worth the drive, especially considering the large amount of ASL that got played. Featured scenarios included Round One, Village of the Damned, Oder Dare, and The Puma Prowls. My contribution to the ASL action was HS30 The Good Shepherd, which I got to play against Bill Wenzel. Bill's a fun opponent with a great sense of humor and who knows the rules quite well. Here's a brief recap of our game:

The scenario comes from the Operation Veritable Historical Study from MMP, and as such, it features some late war Canadians using some less than enthusiastic Germans as their punching bag. The action all takes place in 1945 on two deluxe boards, where the Germans have eleven ELR2 second-liners backed by a StuG, a 75mm INF gun, and some mines, and are trying to hold four of six multi-hex buildings. The attacking Canadians also have eleven squads, but they are elite and are supported by three Shermans and led by 'The Good Shepherd' himself, a 9-2 leader. The Canadians have only 5.5 turns to move up on the Germans and clear the buildings, three of which are the massive multi-level variety, and which will take some time to clear. Given the numerical parity in infantry and the fact that the Germans have an HMG and a MMG, while the attackers bring only LMGs, things would seem to favor the Germans a bit. The Canadian ace in the hole comes in the form of a Wasp, which has a 2 hex range 24FP FT and is fully-tracked with 16MP, allowing it to race from one side of the deluxe map to the other burning out any troublesome German strong points.

I'm not sure if it was Scott's martial Teutonic music playing in the background or not, but Bill decided to take the Germans and set up a very nice defense with his machine guns all at level two for the good LOS and his dummies mixed indistinguishably throughout. With no obvious weaknesses to exploit, I decided to push hard down the left side, where three of the VC buildings stood, and send a smaller flanking force to the right to capture the key fourth building I'd need. I also deployed more than I usually would; the fact we both had an equal amount of squads and that Bill actually had more infantry FP and ROF than me was pretty worrisome. Things started with a smoke round from my 51mm MTR and a wave of 2-4-8s trying to push forward as cautiously as possible. It didn't work. Bill got some 4+0 and 6+0 shots on me and scored several K/ results. Several more squads also broke, but not before I'd blundered into two well-placed minefields and lost another 1.5 squads to some more 6+0 attacks there. Just for kicks, I rolled two boxcars trying to rally my brokies, and started my turn two down 3.5 out of my original eleven squads...

On the bright side, my Shermans started the turn with a bunch of good smoke shots and so the German ability to hurt me dropped way down. I'd also found the minefields and could avoid them going forward, although one was in a great spot that really complicated the assault on the right flank building. My Wasp came to the rescue here, toasting a Germans squad with a KIA on turn one and forcing another to ELR into a 4-3-6 on turn two. The rest of the turn had my troops working their way forward to threaten the four buildings, although another mini-disaster occurred when my 9-2, 2x 4-5-8, 2x LMG stack was hit with an 8+4 that pinned my 9-2 and broke both squads. Bill did a nice job taking advantage of my misfortune and switched to a slightly more active defense. I ended his turn on a dismal note when I had to self-break two CX half squads that ended up adjacent to concealed Germans.

Turn three saw some hope return for me when I rallied almost all my brokies and got some more good smoke and WP rolls from my Shermans to again smother the German positions. The Wasp was again key as the 24+0 attack shattered a key German squad and let me push hard down the left into all three of the VC buildings in that area. Bill did everything he could against the FT threat, but the double-small always Motion Wasp is almost impossible to hit at two hexes and my lucky smoke rolls really cut down on the IFT attacks he could throw at it. The worst the Germans could do was the 4+2 shot from the squad actually being flamed, and neither that nor the X11 number ever came into play.

At this point, the tight confines of the deluxe board and my swarm of half-squads combined to make it tough for any broken Germans to rout, and I started racking up some prisoners. With the three squads the Wasp had zapped, and another 4-4-7 that broke on a 6+1 AFPh shot from The Good Shepherd, Bill was now hurting as much as I was from the lack of infantry. Again though, he made some nice moves in his half of the turn and ended up in CC with several of my half-squad Guards. Bill had some great chances to take me out and rearm his prisoners, but he missed not one, but two HtH attacks and we ended up in Melee in both spots. That was a huge break for me, and in my turn four I was able to fire into both Melees (easy decision as I had two 8ML units in each, the Germans had a single 7ML unit and the 6ML prisoner). Both locations ended with broken Germans and surviving Canadians and I was able to 'Kill Bill' in both spots as the 4-4-7s tried to Withdraw.

That was a huge swing in the game since we were both so short on units that whoever lost the Melees would be really really thin on the ground. The dice bit Bill again at the start of turn four when his brokies couldn't rally. I took full advantage by zapping yet another of his squads with the Wasp and managed to capture the VC building on the right and two of the three on the left. The final building was held by a single 4-4-7 that I broke in PFPh but couldn't quite kill it off that turn. My attack on the last building was greatly aided by the fact that Bill suddenly couldn't break any of my units, despite having point-blank shots from his StuG, INF gun, and some 8FP shots from an MMG across the street. With the final VC building now filling with Canadians and only a broken 4-4-7 holding it, Bill was forced to try a small counter-attack and send two of his few remaining squads across the street and into that fourth building. Again, he played it well and gave me nothing more than some 2-1 shots, but again I rolled low and he rolled high and both German units were gunned down. That signaled the end of the game, as I would have been able to Mop Up on my turn five to take the last building, and there was no way the few remaining Germans could have recaptured anything with only one MPh left.

Overall, it was a fun game with Bill's early luck more than negated by my late game dice. We chopped each other up pretty well with his machine guns and my Wasp until we were both down to seven squads or so. That made those two Melees so key, as some different rolls would have not just killed my units but actually added to the German manpower via released prisoners. As it was, Bill's good play but bad dice lost him about 30% of his remaining force and put me in great shape for the win. My only other comment on the scenario would be that the Germans are likely somewhat favored due to the fact that if something bad happens to the Wasp, I don't see the Canadians having enough FP to pull it out. I was lucky enough to have my key piece active every turn and dishing out damage all game long. The German key to victory, meanwhile, is to hold those big buildings and delay as long as possible, a strategy that is much less reliant on the fickle swings of fate as no one roll will really kill you. Still a fun scenario...but protect the Wasp at all costs and never roll an 11 with it!

Thanks to Bill and Scott for a fun day and thanks to you for reading,


Thursday, September 13, 2007

AAR: RBF-51 Final Glory

Zeb Doyle

Germans: Eric Gerstenberg
Russians: Zeb Doyle

Well, my Labor Day was without ASL and my invitation to join the 'Beat Roy' bandwagon seems to have been lost in the mail, but I did spend a very fun Saturday at Haus Eric playing RBF-51 Final Glory. This is a very fun late-war heavy metal showdown from none other than Chas Smith, who always raises my expectations with interesting-looking scenarios and rarely disappoints. Here, our cardboard counters simulate a May 1945 meeting engagement between the Soviet 1st Polish Tank Division and the Fallschirmpanzerlederhosen Division Hermann Goering. Both sides enter from off-map and battle across the open fields of boards 4, 16, 18, and 44 in an attempt to capture buildings and score CVP. At the end of six turns, the dust clears, the corpses are counted, and if the Germans hold a 31+ VP lead, they win (note that they are fighting the battle in an attempt to break into besieged Berlin, so any victory will be a very relative one indeed).

The scenario looked quite interesting for a number of reasons. Meeting engagements always offer tough decisions, as do combo building/CVP VC (do I risk my troops to try and take that last building?). Chas throws some extra spice into the scenario via the German use of captured Soviet tanks, so we get to try some IS-2 Stalin vs Stalin action. Finally, despite the late-war heavy metal action, there's a lot of interesting net TK numbers and not nearly as much of the boring hit-kill-burn that we usually see in 1945. The two forces are equally matched in total tanks at eleven each, but the Germans hold a slight qualitative edge with two Stalins and three Panthers. I'll call these (to coin a phrase) Main Battle Tanks, as they have a good chance to take out any opposing tank through the front and have little to fear from any non-MBTs. The Soviets have only three Stalins of their own and therefore are weaker in the MBT category by a count of five to three, although the IS-2 (despite the circled B11 number) is slightly superior to the Panther.The remaining tanks are a fun mix of T-34/85s and SU-85s for both sides, with a few T-34/76s and PzIVJs bringing up the rear and clearly out-classed at this point in the war. To sum up, we have the MBTs, which can kill each other frontally with most TKs from five to seven, but are otherwise vulnerable only on the flanks, and a number of lesser tanks that engage each other with TKs of six or so and that need to swarm the MBTs to have much chance. In play, it's a very interesting mix of forces, although I'd say the Germans have a slightly more powerful force overall.

When it comes to the infantry battle, the slight German edge becomes a large advantage. Although the two forces are again equal in quantity, the German first-line squads out range the Soviets (quite useful in such wide-open terrain), are packing PFs and PSKs instead of ATRs, and are backed up by half-tracks and flak-wagons instead of trucks. The two German AT guns are also the manly 75L variety, while the Red Poles are stuck with the 45LL 'nuisance gun.' This disparity in forces is somewhat balanced out by the fact that the Soviets move first and can race into decent defensive positions and capture a fair number of buildings unopposed, but if the armor battle turns against them, it's all over. The German landsers, especially with the 12FP and 20FP IFE attacks from the flak-wagons, can be expected to slowly dominate the infantry struggle and quite likely take out some Soviet armor as well.

At any rate, Eric opted to try his hand at the Germans, which basically meant he had to capture all the contested buildings and outscore me in CVP, or capture fewer buildings and score more CVP. I was happy that he was playing the side stupid enough to try and break INTO Berlin, and sent my Polish Red Army troopers racing onto boards 16 and 44, capturing about half of the VC buildings in the first two turns. The armor for both sides, meanwhile, was cautiously maneuvering into position. One of the fun parts here was the joint off-board entry meant everything was concealed and so we weren't sure quite what we were facing. I tried to enhance this advantage by parking my tanks in orchards or grain whenever I had the chance, and this paid off when Eric (who was fighting horrible allergies all day long and was not on his best game) drove a Stalin up to confront one of my concealed tanks, hoping to score an easy kill. Unfortunately, it was a Stalin of my own and, although my shot missed, presented a major threat to one of Eric's precious MBTs. He moved up a Panther to further pressure me, but a super-tight LOS from a T-34/76 was good and a few side shot APCR rounds left the Panther Stunned and Immobilized. This resulted in the redeployment of another German Stalin and two more Panthers to confront my Stalin and offending T-34 and the turn ended with all of Eric's MBTs facing just one of mine. In a key move though, the German Stalin ended its MPh in a gully where it couldn't see anything but adjacent hexes.

At the start of my turn three, I crossed my fingers, fired my IS-2, and managed to knock out Eric's Stalin, which left me with a very interesting decision. The Germans now had one Stalin dead, one in a gully and effectively out of the fight, one Panther Stunned and Immobile, and the other two Panthers covered by a single German T-34/85. The only German infantry in the area were Riders that I could likely force to Bail Out and wouldn't be able to fire PFs in any event. It seemed like a great opportunity to swarm Eric's tank force and take out his remaining MBTs, thereby granting me a huge edge in the tank battle. The margin of error was slim, though, as I had the bare minimum of required tanks in the area, and two of them were the sub-par T-34/76 variety. In the end, the weak Panther side armor and my really high APCR numbers talked me into the attack. The special ammo rules are a gamey but important part of ASL, and I figured that my swarming tanks would have net 7TH or 8TH numbers (base 10, BFF +4, BU +1, Point-Blank -1 or -2, size -1). Those TH numbers were really close or even equal to my APCR7 numbers, and the thought of getting two chances to roll a 7TH was too tempting to pass up.

So, I unleashed the hounds and sent my tanks swarming in from all directions. Eric made all the right moves with the VCA spins and TCA spins and Intensive Fire shots and so forth, but his dice just couldn't get it done. He seemed to miss by one every single time while my APCR trick worked to perfection and I got all the rolls I needed. By the end of my turn, Eric had lost four of his five MBTs at a cost of a few T-34s. I think the mistake here was bringing the German MBTs into the (comparatively) tight terrain of board 4 without any real infantry support. The slow turrets, weak side armor and close ranges of engagement don't play at all to the strengths of the Panther, while those 75LL guns could do good work on the open expanses of board 44 (where later my 45LL managed to Shock a PzIV with a 29 hex shot!). The real lesson, though, is don't play ASL when you have horrific allergies....the scenario was giving me a real mental workout even without the
distraction of struggling to breath.

At that point, it was looking grim for the Germans, but if you thought Eric was going to throw in the towel...well, you've clearly never played Eric. His landsers started working their way forward to threaten my tanks while his flak-wagons started ripping apart my infantry. In an especially audacious move, a truck pulled a 75L AT gun way up into the front lines, unloaded, and started blasting away at one of my Stalins. At this point, the superiority of the German infantry force really showed itself. The bulk of my armor was mopping up the Panthers and in no position to support my infantry. That left Eric free, in a series of aggressive moves that stopped just short of foolhardiness, to clear out all the victory buildings and cause me a fair amount of casualties in the process. One funny moment arose when a German 8-1/4-6-7/MMG fired at a Russian 8-1/44-7/MMG. Eric rolled my sniper who came over and killed his 8-1, although his squad passed the LLMC. I then rolled my MCs from the attack and activated Eric's sniper...who came over and killed my 8-1. Not to be outdone, the 4-4-7 then also passed his LLMC.

Although Eric was doing great work tearing me up, the infantry fight was bringing in CVP slowly and in small quantities. It's the armor battle in this scenario that will likely prove decisive and thanks to my early good luck, I had a big edge here. Even so, Eric fought hard and really only needed a few things to go his way to get back into it. It simply wasn't meant to be, though, as his dice continually left him just short. One of my Stalins was hit literally 14 times through the front by the 75L AT gun and assorted other tanks, but it survived every time and stolidly proceeded to pick off one German AFV after another. Finally, a desperate German-manned SU-85 drove to point-blank range and fired at the monster, managing to immobilize the monster. Of course, the Stalin crew passed the bail-out TC and erased the offending German during the next PFPh. With that, Eric's armor was effectively annihilated and the combination of my large CVP lead and entirely unopposed armor force brought an end to the game on turn five of six since the German infantry just wouldn't have enough time to hunt me down.

I want to thank Eric for the very fun game despite his sub-par physical condition. The scenario itself is a ton of fun, with the slug-fest between the MBTs taking center stage, but both sides having enough beef to continue fighting even if something should go wrong early. That's exactly what happened to the Germans in my playing, but the strength of their infantry allowed them to make a very valid push for victory over the remainder of the game. If I were to play it again (and there's a good deal of replay value here), I might try sending the German MBTs onto board 18 where HD positions await and they can cover the open fields of board 44. At that point, the LL guns of the Panthers and the Soviet red TH numbers might tip the balance away from the Red Poles a bit. Still, if the Soviets know of the plan, they might be able to use their concealed T-34/76s as bait to feint and....let me just end here by saying if you're looking for a late-war rumble with
some fun subtleties to it, take alook at Final Glory!

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Eric and Chas for a great Saturday