Monday, January 26, 2009

AAR: AP41 The Meat Grinder

Randy Waxman

Germans: Randy Waxman
Russians: Tom Gillis

Tom Gillis and I played The Meat Grinder from the new AP5 this weekend.

The strategic setting was set in the first few days of Barbarossa in far northwestern Ukraine at Lutsk. Lutsk was vital as it controlled 2 major bridges over the Styr River including the main west to east highway that eventually lead to Kiev. Some of the more vigorous defense by the Russians in those early days was fought in this part of the Ukraine.

The scenario uses two boards, 49 and the brand new 56, lying side by side with the numbered edges of both to the north. These boards made a good rendition of a suburb transitioning to major city.

The victory conditions were based on a combination of CVP's and control of the boards' 13 mulithex buildings, worth two points apiece. Only three of these buildings were on board 56, all located around the crossroads in the center. The remainder were well spaced across board 49 making the Russian defense much more difficult. The scenario is 5 turns long meaning the Germans have precious little time to capture those multihex buildings to bolster their point total.

The opposing forces were interesting. 8 squads with a HMG and 76LL AA gun for the Russians. Russian armor consisted of 2 KV-2's with 152mm gunnery, an AA truck with a vicious AAMG factor of 16, and a reinforcing (on Russian turn 1)of platoon of three BT-7's, only two of which were radioless. For the German attackers 3 PzIVE's with a company of 10 German squads lead by a 9-2 leader. Also, on turn 2 the Germans received a flanking attack by 3 PzIIIH's led by a 9-1 armor leader. These could enter on either the north or south edge of the boards on turn 2.

Tom played the Russians and set up mostly to cover the center and northern approaches. The area to the south on board 56 is fairly wide open and perhaps this led him to defend that approach more lightly with only a three squads and no armor on the southern edge of Board 49. Setup stipulated that he could not set up closer that hexes <=5 on board 56.

He set up most of the remaining infantry and a KV in the central sector to cover the main road approach into the city and set up another KV and the HMG near the factory-like building to the northern end of board 49.

Looking at the concealed stacks in front of me and knowing I did not want to take on the KV's unless absolutely necessary, I decided to concentrate the entire force to enter on the southwestern end of board 56. In spite of the wide open terrain, I had enough cover from the buildings in the center of the board blocking LOS to this area and from a small area of brush to make the wide open run without incident. The PzIV's made it to the edge of the city near an area that held a city block with two multihex buildings that Tom was willing to let me have with the infantry shortage in having to cover such a large front. By turn 2 the infantry had made it near this area as well without so much as a shot fired in anger. Tom moved his turn 1 reinforcement BT-7s along the main road at the northeastern end of board 49 well away from the German advance. When it came time for my flanking attack I decided to attempt to run a gauntlet of isolated Russian squads covering the streets along the southern side of board 49 in order to engage the BT-7's and attempt to delay a counterattack by the lumbering KV-2's into the section of the city containing my as yet untouched infantry advance. The PzIV's set to work trying to dislodge the Russian squads in 49X9 and 49V4. Even with the infantry supporting these attacks the dogged resistance of these 2 1/2 squads were to be a thorn in my side through most of the game.

On Russian turn two the game of maneuver came to a standstill as a full armored counterattack came from the northern end into the center of the city to confront the PzIII's that had bypassed the Russian resistance in the south. First moving the platoon of BT-7's, one PzIII in an excellent position at 49Q6 dispatched two of them in the movement phase. This panzer was then subsequently jumped in close combat by a lone commisar who imobilized him before being overrun by another PzIII acting like a wingman and taking him out in German turn 3. Meanwhile another BT-7 and a KV-2 moved on to board 56 toward a platoon of German infantry and a PzIV near 56Z2. After dispatching the panzer and breaking an infantry squad Tom effectively isolated the platoon from the rest of the force and covered any approach they might have to rejoin it. With a squad and a half still holding out at 49W9 and 49X9 the blitzkrieg was definitely in a bad way.

Drastic measures were called for and I qucikly sent two PzIII's scurrying toward the armor he had counterattacked with to get some rear shots from 49Q10. This attack did not pan out either as the Germans managed to break the main armament of 1 tank, which recalled successfuly on turn 4 and ended up losing the other panzer to a KV2 shot as the second KV2 moved away from the factory to the rear of the armor leader's vehicle in turn 4. The infantry finally supporting the two remaining PzIV pushed the stubborn but badly outnumbered Russians in 49W9 back toward the center of the city and the landsers sucessfully took control of the southern half of board 49 getting two more critical multihex buildings on turn 5.

The cutoff platoon had no choice but to CX back along the western edge of the dirt road out of sight of the KV and the BT-7, which by this time had malfunctioned his MA. This turned out to be decisive as Tom has moved all the Russian infantry away from the multihex building and the crossroads at 56P5. Through quick manuevering these troops took two of those three buildings by scenario end and tied up two squads to prevent them from getting the third. During that exchange the only German sniper attack of the game broke the squad that had just shot up a German squad at the crossroad.

By the beginning of Russian turn 5 we counted up the points and because of the six multihex builidings I now controlled and the kills on the BT-7s on turn 2 I had exactly two more points than Tom.

So it would come down to this, the Germans with an immobilized PzIII and a PzIV with a low muzzle velocity in the center of town would have to hold off a KV2 and the building that the Russians were contesting now at 49S9 would decide the game. Russian prep fire broke an 8-0 leader in the building setting up a 1-1 CC showdown, but first, Tom needed to kill off the immobilized PzIII in the MPh. Coming around the corner at 49P8 the PzIII took a lame attempt at getting APCR on a 4 and got it with exactly a 4. The shot gave a to kill of 14 vs. 8 armor, about the only to kill shot that had a chance against these behemoths all day in spite of numerous hits. I rolled a 5 and killed the KV2! That sealed a German victory that looked unlikely just moments before.

Tom and I both rate it a 7. I thought the Russians just really don't have enough infantry to cover such a large area but the KV2's are a equalizer in that regard. Tom commented that the highest rating any scenario using board 49 will ever get from him is a 7 :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winter Offensive Exploits

Mike Seningen

It was with great pride that I knocked off Steve Pleva at Winter Offensive -- Steve is a phenomenal player, gracious in victory and in defeat and epitomizes the type of player I strive to be on all fronts.

I've had the pleasure to play Steve several times now and I have also shared a few meals, beers, and conversations with him..... A good friendship - if you can call someone you see once every few years a friendship. How about ASL kinship.

Have catching up to do -- so I'll keep things brief.

David Longstreet -- you're the only game I played since our tournament -- so I was quite rusty and didn't have very high expectations.

I played a playtest Mini against Bil Stoppel(sp?) -- a good player.... It was a bridge scenario and I lost the smoke of my 81mm MTR after dropping only 1 SMOKE round on his HMG position -- this proved my undoing -- as now I covered him in Smoke -- but he was still free to firelane the bridge..... We'll have to see how the balance on this playtest plays out -- as I drop my first game. This one didn't count for anything but the Mini - -and in fact Bill went on to win the mini -- so not bad losing to the eventual winner.

Then I challenged Gary Trezza to a game -- for those that don't know -- Gary puts Matt Shostak's antics in the lame column :-) And I just love to rile them both up.... My rust was really thick on this one as I HIP two ART pieces in buildings, and broke my 81Mtr on the first roll -- so I'm playing the scenario with only 2 of 5 5/8" pieces. This one goes down to the end -- but I preserved with my infantry, and Gary ran out of time closing the noose.... I hold out for the victory and give Gary a half dozen aneurysms along the way.

So at this point it's late on Friday night and I stumble across Pleva looking for a game -- we grab the new Action Pack and snag the Frontiers for Pioneers scenario. We dice for sides and the high roll got the defense -- my 9 wasn't good enough -- Steve's 11 gave him the Russians. It's an interesting scenario where 6 German light skinned Tanks support ~10 motorcycle squads which have to control all buildings from within 3 hexes of one of two road intersections on either bd 59 or 58(i forget which one). The Russians have a 25LL AA piece, a T35 and a KV8 as well as a 9-2 with an MMG. Plenty of tubes to thwart the BMW bikers. I won't do a complete AAR -- as without the scenario cards it would be hard to follow. But I would say the luck was up and down for both sides, but there were some key elements that influenced the game. With his 9-2 reigning down lead from his L2 building perch scattering bikers all over the place, my MkIVC decided that there was no challenge in obscuring his view, and decided to leave all his SMOKE at home. Each of my tanks had SD7 -- and yet I got it maybe 1/3 of the time -- continually frustrating my plan to cover the bikers. On Steve's half of turn 2, he decided to redeploy his armor as it was obvious I was pulling a flanking maneuver. But his KV8 threw a tread (ouch), and his T35 had his tread blown off. Both would continue to dominate the middle of the battlefield, but for all major purposes they were combat ineffective. I played my MkIIIs well and outflanked his smaller tanks, taking them out through many hindrances. The Russians were at a severe disadvantage, being normal sized, red to hits, and button-upped. I'd sit out at 7 hex range with 3-5 hindrances and plunk away at them. Now I had lost about 1/4th my infantry to the 9-2, but I still had good numbers getting into the village, and those combined with tank superiority took its toll -- His infantry made a good stand -- and he was very effective with his MOL attacks -- while my poor tankers couldn't hit a fish in a barrel when lone squads would charge them. But I had too many vehicles, and too much support in the end -- and wiped the Russians out nearly to the last man. Luck is always a part of any ASL victory -- but this one had ups and downs for both sides. While it'll be nice to say I knocked off the greatest -- I'm sure Steve will be marking his calender for the next event he hears that I will be attending to seek out his revenge and pull out his usual can of Whoop-arse... BTW, not that he has much practice at it -- but Steve is as gracious in defeat as he is humble in victory.

So then I get paired up with Gary Mei -- ASL on crack is probably slow motion compared to Gary's game. We played another one from the East Front Pak -- the 3rd of the weekend for me. This one will be remembered probably as long as the Pleva victory. The quick of it was I had a masterful defense -- played a good (could have been better -- but still very good game) and Gary had basically 2 chances to win -- needing a "2" to critical hit a pillbox and eliminate the Gun inside.... Now to make things worse -- Gary had just the turn before rolled a critical to take out my 2nd gun from the side with a StuG -- he needed a 4 or less - -but still he rolled a 2 there as well. This last Gun was sitting in a hex with a trench, 2 squads a leader and an MMG, surrounded by OG on all sides. Mines to one side as well. He had no LOS to the Pillbox front, so he had to hit it from the side -- He only had one defensive fire phase in his half of the last turn. He had a French 37mm Tank (in 1945 no less) 2 hexes away. Of course he rolled the 2 -- I wasn't done yet though-- I remanned my previously knocked out 81Mtr, but the same 37mm Tank VBM'd me and then ESB'd to stop on top of me insuring I would not be Good Order. C'est la vie -- that's classic ASL for you (and a reminder to never discount any counter!) -- all I could do was shrug it off, laugh, and wish Gary luck in the finals-- It was only fitting anyways -- since I was also visiting family on my trip -- and couldn't stay for the final rounds.....

Knowing this must have pissed off the ASL gods as they gave me the wherewithal to beat Pleva, yet they tortured me with a defeat in the semi-finals on a snake-eyes to Gary.

Fortunately I heard from Sam Tyson that Gary won the tournament -- Hats off to Gary --- lots of good competition at Winter Offensive -- but I will be circling My calender looking for an opportunity to share with Gary a little can of Whoop-ass of my own :-)

As an aside -- I am hoping to change my work life to allow me a little more sanity and carve out some more time for ASL with my favorite group of players -- my home buds -- so with a little fortune I'll get the chance to see some of you across the table more often in the near future.

For those headed to Owlcon -- have a safe trip and enjoy the ASL. Nick, David, Sam, Matt, and all the others who sent some love my way --- thanks!


P.S. Curt Schilling does exist and even plays ASL :-) He made a cameo on Saturday afternoon and I saw him playing 1 or 2 games with some of the MMP folks.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Houston Gameday and AAR: AD2 Last Act in Lorraine

Tom Gillis

Wow, great game day guys. 7 bodies showed up and everyone got a scenario in. And the first arrivees got a special T shirt made by Walt's wife. Very cool! Make sure to thank her Walt!

Scenarios played:
Doyle v Steve in Fri the 13th I believe Doyle's Russians were able to stymy Steve's Germans...

John v Steve in Undarnik Bridgehead. Johns 'farm collective workers yesterday' i.e. conscripts were able to hold the bridgehead against Steve's Spanish Blue Legion trrops and hero. One of the very first scenarios I played myself. Losing as the Russians to Tyson's fascists at my first tourny.

Chris and Jonny played a ST scenario. The title eludes me but I think Chris' Russians were just able to pull it out.

I played Walt in the updated (DASL) version of Last Act in Lorraine. My Americans just couldn't quite do it. I started with 13 Shermans and had one left with a busted MA at games end. Don't let anyone fool ya, 436s with PFs are deadly. After fumbling around with his radio Walt was able to bring in some timely 80mmOBA on my devil squads that just crippled my right flank attack. It was the game turner really, even though he got only one fire mission with it, it was enough. Most of my joes never came back, eventually FTRing for the most part. I got just one WP round out of 7 AFVs with it! I did kill both his panthers w/o them killing any Shermans. But it didn't matter cause the 436s hit 5 out of 7 PF attempts. And you know when they hit its pretty slim survival chances...Walt played a great defence with low quality troops. I played the best I could but made a few dumb mistakes. Remember Tom, crews can shoot ,fausts, find ATMMs and streetfight when applicable...I'd hope to take advantage of his 436s on turn one, my 2 SSR Smoke FFE's hitting right where I wanted them, sending smoke all over the center of the mapboard. I moved up several Shermans w/o inf support right away trying to take advantage of it. They were kind of pesky to him but really just bottled themselves up in the center bds limiting their manueverbilty, eventually being picked off one by one of his STG4s and pseudo landsers..

In fact my infantry played catch up all scenario long, and it really hurt not having grunts when I needed them. I got 6 Gyros by SSR and put them all in my killers, the M476Ws, (76L.) The 9-1 Armldr I put in the M4(105.) I wanted the extra drm for shooting at inf targets, but again I mis maneurved him to having him get zapped by a STG4...He never got an active WP round out with S9..!! That was annoying. But I can't really complain as I made many Smoke mortar attempts. I even shocked one of his assualt guns with a rear MG TK shot. They went UK, and I failed to kill them twice in CC with a 126. Eventually they came back ok, but the games was over by then and I was capitulating on T10 of 10. I had three buldings controlled out of the VC required 6 and Walt, having a finak T10 player turn himself would almost for sure take at least one of them back...

As nasty as my casulties sound, (and were,) I was in this one to the end. There were some exciting mid game turns that generated some crazy things. Walters SAN of 4 being reduced to 3 but pinning a 666 on a key 2 sniper effect, me getting a heroic 8-1 on T1, and self rallying an 8-1 on a ldr creation. Walt had a 226 HS that disrupted twice and got rallyed back only to die dashing across a road hex! Walt did a great job of keeping my brokies DM'ed. And though I did take a bunch of prisoners who gave up two HIP'ed 20L AA guns, (Der schwine...) it really didn't add up to much. I still think my plan of pushing hard up both entry bds was a good decision. I just would have slowed it down a turn or so to have my infs catch up. All in all a good scenario that we both rated 8, a must play. Very cool DASL. Brings out the best DASL style I've played in a while. Bloody and cramped!

Thanks again for a successful and fun meeting.


Last Act in Lorraine - Response

Walter Eardley

While doing my setup, I had no idea how I was going to keep Tom from controlling 6 buildings with only 3 447s and 7 436s and ELR 2. I was very excited to have three nifty 20L IFE 6 ROF 3 guns for support plus a 75L AT, 2 Panthers and 2 JgPz Vs (or something). I was very surprised the 20Ls did not do more for me. Both Panthers died without taking anyone with them. The Jgs were money killing several tanks and helping wrap up a bunch of infantry for FtR. The crews for two of the 20Ls were some of the best units on the board with 8 morale and self rally.

As Tom mentioned, the key roll of the game for me was getting my arty down for its one and only mission. Tom had just executed a beautiful assault on my 237/MMG, 237/HMG and 9-1 MG nest supported by both Panthers and another conscript. After smoking both Panthers and moving up into several good positions, he was in an excellent position to roll up my entire flank with several 666s lead by a 9-1 and supported by about 6 tanks. The arty falls and breaks a 666 in one hex, pins his 9-1, CRs and breaks a 666 and kills one of his 76L Shermans in another hex. Without the infantry to support his attack, he was left taking pot shots with his tanks while they dodged PFs flying out the windows. I had very good luck with my PFs all day. I hit on 5 of 7 tries.

This was a very fun scenario which really was in doubt until the very end. Well worth the 10 hour investment of time!


Friday, January 02, 2009

AAR: J110 Prelude to Spring

Steven Miller

Germans: Steven Miller
Russians: Randy Garlington

Randy Garlington and I tried this one. I was the Germans and he was the Russians. It is a relatively small scenario; eight turns and four half boards put sideways. The Germans have seven first line squads, three tanks (a Panther and two MK-IV's), three leaders (9-1 the best), a 50mm mtr and a 75 AT gun. The Russians have eight elite squads, five tanks (two IS-II's, two T34-85's and a SU-100), three leaders (9-2 the best and an 8-1 armor leader) and a 50 cal. MG. The Russians have to travel the width of three boards to exit the equivilant of three tanks off the board or have 15 more CVP than the Germans. The German tanks and two and 1/2 of the squads do not enter until turn three. That leaves the German with four and 1/2 squads and an AT gun to hold the Russians off until help arrives.
The game began on an auspicious note when my first roll was a "12" I broke a LMG and my squad and leader were then swarmed by several Russian squads. Of course they broke in the next fire phase...but then in a later MC the squad battle hardened, created a hero but the leader wounded. By that time however, the squad and hero were jumped by several Russian squads and promptly died in CC. One minute your up, then your down. My wounded leader did manage to take out a half squad in CC. Not being of much use after that he wandered around in a grain field out of harms way. My other front line troops were slowly ground down. One rather cowardly half-squad surrendered and revealed under interrogation that the AT gun was not hidden anywhere near him, which pretty much narrowed it down to where it was located. Thats okay, the Gestapo is investigating their families. My lt mtr KIA'd one squad and caused one to go fanatic. The fanatic squad then jumped my second remaining squad and after a couple of melee rounds eliminated it. So I'm not sure if the mtr helped me or hurt me.
Prior to getting jumped by the fanatic squad my squad made four, count 'em four, attempts at a PF and came up dry each time. Oh yeah, did I mention it was against a T34 from one hex away and at it's rear facing? My last "stronghold" (a squad, 9-1 and a MMG) got itself surrounded by tanks and 458's. In an attempt to pull off an escape of legendary proportions I charged a T34-85. If it pulled off I'd have gotten a tank and escaped the jaws of death. However, the broken half squad and the broken 9-1 routed back to the Alamo.
At that point the game turned in my favor. I can safely say after that I got just about everything I needed in dice rolls. The 9-1 rallied, got a PF (needed a "1") and took out the T34 with the 8-1 armor leader. But that wasn't the end. By this time the German tanks were on the board. A MK-IV took out a T34 with a CH using APCR. The Panther took out two IS-II's and a SU-100 without taking a hit. On one of the IS-II's the Panther got four ROF shots before getting the hull hit it needed to have a good chance of the kill. Lastly, the AT gun finally revealed itself and busted up the last Russian infantry assault on a German position. At this point the Russians were incapable of offensive action and we ended the game on turn six with a German victory. I have to admit I was embarrassed by the way my dice rolls were so good in the last half of the game. They more than made up for what happened in the first half.