Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tournament AAR Scenario 3: RPT1 Ferenc Josef Barracks

Nick Drinkwater

Hungarian: Ken Havlinek [ELR 3, SAN 4]
Romanian: Nick Drinkwater [ELR 3, SAN 3]

Pre-Game Thought:
I was going to live up to Ken's prediction and have a big bitch and moan about this scenario, but scared of coming across as a poor loser, I will instead carry out a pensive, insightful but short review instead.

Very hard to win as the Romanians.

I would have initially have said "Impossible to win as the Romanians" but I realised afterwards that we missed out on playing the increased rear Morale for both sides, which would have helped the attackers a little more, and there is of course, always the chance that the Hungarian 3ROF machine gun would fail, the Romanian Flamethrower would not "X" out and would in fact remove KIA 5 squads (one per game turn) and that the Romanian sniper may nail the chief Hungarian honcho through the head. Still, just a simple analysis of time and distance needed to be covered by the Romanians show that they would probably need to be completely un-threatened in their approach, would have to execute a close to flawless in their attack on the buidling, pass all their MCs and find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to get a result here.

VC and setup Analysis:
The Romanians come on from the SE half-board edge on one-half of Board 51 - they have to cross diagonally across the board through rowhouses and wide long city streets to get to the three-level victory building in the central NW area. Note that even if unopposed in their onboard entry and approach, that will take the Romanians a minimum of two turns just to CX and normal move and to be in a position to assault the house from the neighbouring rowhouses. Assuming the Huns are naive enough to let them walk openly up the street like that, they then have three turns to evict all good order Hungarian MMC from a six-hex building where the Huns can both stay concealed and conduct a "fill-the-two-stairwells-with-bodies" defense. Note also that in their approach to such an attack, the Romanian units may be facing some 20FP (-1) attacks from the Huns from a squad, HMG and leader combo. And lets also add that 95% of the Romanians are 3 FP troops and they will be attacking against 7 morale troops in a stone building defense? Note also that the increased rear morale (which we missed) also helps the Hungarians on their defense and rallies too. Ummm, am I missing something here?

The trouble with Stairwells:
Ken (and Brian I think too) had already worked out that by deploying like crazy everything that he could, a smart Hungarian player could then pack the VC building with so many bodies that he actually virtually wouldn't have to fight at all - ally this trick to a ~2-3 squad speed-bump platoon in the Romanian entry area and there seems to be no way that the Romanian can do it. Instead of this, Ken, being a gentlemen, opted to play a more normal gentleman's defense, where he kept his heavy weapons at the back in the VC building ready to do some end-game death-dealing, but put a ring of concealed units (some dummies and 3-4 real squads) upfront to interdict the Romanian entry area and the first paved road they have to cross as soon as they walk on. I did all I could to try and shield myself from damage with a half-squad blitz but 4, 2 and 1 Residual Fire on paved roads is lethal whatever you do and I had to accept a bit of a safety-first policy.

The end:
After that first round of nasty fire and several broken units, Ken conducted a skillful retreat backwards - even where I did detect a chink in his defense and was able to push my leader and MG combo hard, I ran up against another layer of concealed defenders lining the road in front of the Victory Building. This again meant more caution, not helped by the presence of the Hungarian HMG dominating all who came close to the final building. Ken cleverly conducted the required stairwell body defense and I was left stuck at the beginning of my last turn Prep Fire with a single squad in one bottom location of the VC building, wistfully hoping for a KIA from my FT to clear a stairwell and free access to the rest of the building and then win about three CCs whilst CX vs concealed troops. As you can imagine, that didn't happen.

Post-game thought:
The appeal of this scenario is its length. At 4.5 turns with 8-12 squads per side, it looks very manageable in 2-3 hours, which was indeed the case for us as we played this one as filler when none of the ASLSK people showed up. As listed though, the general consensus around the room was that this was flawed at best, broken at worst and thats a surprise as this is out of the Schwerpunkt stable and they are normally very reliable. The strairwell-body defense is an absolute bugger to beat with limited time and, as related, even if my Romanians had been completely unmolested in their approach to the building, even three turns of assaulting concealed troops in a multi-hex, multi-level building would have been pretty tough to get through...there really was no way I was going to do it in less than two. At time of writing, ROAR has this has 18-6 for the Hungarians - I'd love to hear from those six Romanian winners and how they pulled this one off!! Did we miss something completely here? And if anyone's wondering, we didn't have access to ROAR when we selected it.

The recommended balance for this was to add a HMG to the Romanians, but a clunking great 5PP weapon is the last thing they need in this scenario with the big time issues they face. What they really need is either an extra FT, an extra turn or even for the VC building to be reduced to a single-storey building with inherent stairwells in every hex. That way they would have a much better chance.

Anyway, well done Ken for both being and playing the gentlemen and trying to give me a real played the fallback defense really well and snuffed out any remote hope of a Romanian win and quite rightly so! So now I'm back to 1-2 for the tourney and just playing for the fun of it!

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