Wednesday, November 12, 2008

AAR: Sverdlikova Melee RBF12

Nick Drinkwater

Russian [ELR 3, SAN 3]: Nick Drinkwater
German [ELR variable, SAN 3]: Stephane Graciet

A very quick playing six-turn deluxe scenario that amazingly we finished in under two hours. Its set on Board b and also on HOB's Deluxe board BF2 (which came with one of their Recon By Fire Magazines). Its a simple enough concept - a moderate force of Russians have to have more good order squads north of the stream than a fairly tasty German group do at game end. The Germans set up first, north of a flooded but completely fordable stream, and they receive three 4-4-7s and three SS 4-6-8s, a couple of LMG, moderate leaders and three flak trucks (which by SSR, retain a three ROF and get a special -1 modifier when firing IFE). The attacking Russians come on from the south side with approximately nine squads, four of which are useless, range-constrained conscripts, the rest 4-4-7s. They also receive a 9-1 leader, a couple of LMGs, a light mortar and the obligatory swapped in 9-0 commissar (its August 1941).

In itself, that is clearly not nearly enough, so in Turn 2, they also receive another 7 squads of mixed 4-4-7s, 5-2-7s and another 9-1 leader, 7-0 plus LMG help which come on from the north side of Board b, behind the German start line. Ideally these guys will be the hammer to the south side anvil and will help crush the outlying line of German resistance. At least for one turn anyway, before a monstrous eight SS 4-6-8s, a MMG and four LMGs shows up from either the west, east or north side in Turn 3. The end result of all of this will be a swirling melee of punching, stabbing, shooting fights across most of the board and the small hill and ultimately, last men standing win. A bit like a late-night Saturday at the taxi rank in most UK cities I guess....

Stephane had a fairly straightforward setup where he had lined up in stone and wooden buildings a cross the width of the board with a couple of squads on the hill. As the stream was flooded, this meant everything in it would be at level 0 and hence we would be fording this as hazardous movement in plain sight of most of the Germans. Not a good place to be, clearly, so I managed to find a single blind spot on the extreme flank to try the ford, but set everyone else up to form big blob firegroups from the buildings at the water's edge. Stephane fired vainly with his three trucks but these were extremely fragile and I managed to shoot two of them to pieces with pure and simple FP in the first two turns and then shredded the final one in round three. We made a mistake and failed to apply a collateral attack to an escaping crew and they started to become difficult, but not too bad a start.

Eventually, my flanking forders managed to get up and on the hill and through a break from FPF on one German squad and a 16 FP FG shot against another I bagged two of Stephane's original six squads as prisoners. At the same time my Turn 2 crew had pushed on hard into to the village center and were starting to put the squeeze on Stephane's starters. Things are looking up!

Then of course it all went wrong as per usual. The Game's sole German sniper (warm) randomly selected my 8-1 from a stack of three and of course the wound was actually a kill. One of the squads he was with broke (of course), and my Commissar managed to shoot the only decent squad he had to rally, having saved a couple of lousy conscripts prior to this. I had made a mistake by accepting the two squads of prisoners and paid the penalty when one of Stephane's 4-6-8's jumped into melee with my guards and then took them prisoners and to rub salt into the wound, re-armed his own guys - all because I didn't want NQ to cause the Germans to start low crawling away as their self-rally potential was so much better than my own. This particular 4-6-8 had also come through a 8+2 and a 16+1 shot the phase before I had rolled my usual 9s and 11's.

From this point the Game swiftly fell apart. Three more NMCs and 1MC's from the newly arrived eight squad strong SS 4-6-8 Schwerpunckt (from the east board edge) resulted in three more MC failures in a row (rolled 9, 10, 10). I had managed to break Stephane's at start 8-1, two 4-6-8 + MG stack, but the SS quickly rallied and then with spraying MG fire proceeded to break two adjacent 5-2-7 squads when I rolled an additional 9 and 10. Five morale checks in a row from units in woods, and wooden and stone buildings and everyone failed (three had been ELRed to conscripts) and the lowest die was 9.

I conceded at this point. I had only five unbroken squads left (two of which were conscripts) and my strreams of broken troops were going to be chased across the board wit h no hope of quickly rallying (the Commissar was still south of the stream) and hence winning. These pitiful remnants were pitted against nine squads of troops with 8 front and 9 broken side morale, who I now had to kill and lock up in melee. It was a wash at that point. I had passed two morale checks for the entire night, (both squads still pinned), and my own fire had been generally less than effective. Another night, another dice-rolling disaster. Victor - please come back to Houston!

So more atrocious sequential rolling by me had ruined what had looked like being a fun scenario. Up until that sequence, things had been looking about even, though I think I was probably in more trouble than I originally thought as at least three of Stephane's at-start squads were still ultimately going strong. Obviously the Russians have to really hammer those at-start defenders quickly and then try and prepare for the German reinforcements but that also comes with risks and is not easy to do.

Crossing the river under fire is lethal and there is no option to Human Wave it as fording takes all your MF and HW teams have no Advance to get out of the stream. Even at the beginning, the Russians are a little outgunned and then they get set seriously out-gunned and out-moraled from Turn 4 onwards when the rest of the SS show up. ROAR has this as 8-10 to the Germans, so I'd be interested to know how any Russian wins were achieved or is there some kind of trick strategy that I missed as the Reds in this one? (Apart from passing morale checks when asked to of course!).

I am now surrendering to the obvious and we're going to play a game that doesn't involve so much dice for an evening or two, if schedules allow. After the weekend with Zeb, I was close to reaching this point, but these recent games with Stephane have showed its been less than fun for quite some while now, and I think this is true for my opponents when I can't really offer them a challenge anymore. Its just tedious for both parties when you're two or three turns and a lot of time invested into a game when all of a sudden, half of my order of battle just melts away in a horror sequence from hell and the game is then effectively a wash.

It seems that no matter what I do or attempt, I just can't get any relief at all from the continual sequences of nines, tens, elevens and twelves which I have an uncanny ability to pull out in horrendous chains. We may try Twilight Struggle or Flying Colors next. We'll see, but I need to re-charge and take a break from ASL until the new year.

AAR: RBF40 King's Gambit

Tom Gillis

Randy and I hooked up on this one the other day. Early August 1940 Copenhagen...Randy was the Landsers, and I the defending Vikings, I mean Danes...

It is a really fun small 7 turn scenario from our 'recon by fire' friends. It was early war Germans vs Danes in a scenario called Kings Gambit. The defending Danes are trying to protect the King and palace on bd 45 from a reinforced German plt advancing to secure it. The Germans have 7x467s and some decent ldrs and a DM MMG and 228 crew to go with it. The Danes have about a similar amt, except for some trucks for use with later arriving palace guards. As the Danes, I chose to try to interdict the advancing Boche with a couple of my trucks armed w a HS and 8-1 ldr. They pretty much failed in this attempt with me eventually losing the 8-1 to a nasty 6-2 shot KIA and the HS just continously breaking. So much for being a hassle in Randys rear. My center groups, (9-1, 457, LMG on my left side in a block of stone buildings, and a 457, LMG next to them on my right in similar TEM. These were the real soldiers and they kept the Germans moving slowly for a turn or two by breaking several MMCs. But as the Germans slowly closed in on these guys I made a mistake. Instead of advanceing into an open hex to get closer to Danish lines, I asslt mv'd instead. Randy was able to get a 6-1 on these guys and rolled low. Real low as it KIA'd that squad. My other squad was hit bad by fire and elr'd to green. But all was not going completely bad for me: I kept breaking the German squads trying to get closer to the palace, (building J3 on bd 45.) The VCs are the Army that had more good order squad equivalents in or within 1 hex on building J3 after 7 turns. Well Randy skilfully moved most of his force through some orchards and into the palace. I had 2 broken 457s, both with an 8-1 ldr, no longer DM'd and a couple of squads and a HS. I broke 1 of 2 467s he had in the in the palace and pinned the other one. (No CC for him...) We counted squads and he had 3 1/2 gd order squads going into German T7 (The last turn,) and I had 2 1/2...If I rallied both my squads (one in a woods hex and one in a building hex) I'd prob win as Randy will have to face some blistering DF in his last mv phase. If I only rally one of them, I'll still prob win as the Germans have to have _more_ squad equivalents and that would tie us.

OK, rally phase rolls: remember Allied minor brkn side is one less, so in both cases I'm looking for an '8.' First roll: an 11, uggh! Of course...and this particular squad had rolled 11 the rally phase before that...Damn. But these are the Kings guard. Not elite front line guys maybe, but not raw greenies either...I roll and its a...9! Damn, game over! Great fun, and Randy played a good solid game, never panicking when he had lots of brokies, and making solid moves. We both gave it a '7' on roar: a respectable "recommend." Try this one if you can as it is short and fun. And not so much of a bloody slugfest, but more maneuvering for good firing, dashing, and moving situations. Some funky things, not in a bad way...The Danes set up and move first, before the Germans are even on bd, and the Germans are restricted from entering buildings until the Danes fire on them. (Of course I fired right away...but I wonder what a game would be like where the Danish player lets the Germans advance very close to the palace before firing...could be interesting. Randy was a fun opponent and I'm looking fwd to playing him again.



Monday, November 10, 2008

Thunderbird ASL Tournament 2008 Final Results

After starting out as one of 16 participants in the "Sour Sixteen", both Wes Vaughn and Randy Shurtz faced off against each other for the Thunderbird Trophy on Sunday morning.

They played the scenario "About His Shadowy Sides" (Friendly Fire Pack #19) with Wes Vaughn winning. He received the Championship Trophy and Randy got the Runner-Up Trophy.

Two other games were played to determine winners for overall group play. In a playing of East Side Gamer's Scenario "Dying to Kill", Mike Denson defeated Ed Beekman and after the dust settled in Multiman Publishing's Scenario "Hill 27" from Operation Watchtower, Jeff Ital took down David Longstreet. Both of them received 10-0 Commissar trophies for their efforts.

A total of 26 people made the tournament a great success. They came from Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and Maryland. My personal thanks to all of you for making the trip. There would be no tournament without you.

I would like to give a big thank you to the many sponsors who donated prizes. The prize table made many an old Grognard happy in the spirit of ASL camaraderie. Each of the products deserve high consideration from the ASL playing public. The complete list of sponsors with hyperlinks can be seen on our website

I want to also thank both Ken Dunn from MMP and Chas Smith from Bounding Fire Productions for attending in person. A hearty thanks also goes to John Farris of Edward Jones for providing a great deal of tournament support as well as making our
t-shirt debut a smashing success. He is also our official tournament photographer. I also very much appreciate Rick Reinesch's help in providing us with a tournament play tracking program and the technical advice that goes along with that as well as sage wisdom throughout the event. Thanks to Caitlin Cadieux for the website that makes advertising of, and pre-registering for, our tournament so much easier.

Lastly, my two co-organizers deserve special recognition. Both Mike Rose and Mike Laney chose some bang up scenarios and provided Up Front support throughout the tournament by making sure the room was open each morning, that drinks were available and that participants always had a game as soon as possible. Thanks for hanging in there during those long days.

Pictures of the event will be posted on our site soon.

Hope to see all of our new friends, as well as our old, at next years event!

Mike Cadieux