Monday, February 09, 2009

Owlcon AAR: Tac 43 Massacre in Paradise

Nick Drinkwater

British Player: [ELR 2, SAN 4] Nick Drinkwater
German Player: [ELR 2, SAN 2] Johnny Johnson

Whilst everyone else was taking part in Brit Fest, I was happy to play Johnny Johnson in one of the simpler Tactiques scenarios from days gone by, where a bunch of early war, war crimes specialists get shown a lesson or two in how to play at real soldiers by members of His Majesty's Royal Norfolk regiment in Le Paradis, Northern France 1940. As a footnote to this, this scenario recreates the event where the War Crims lived down to their reputation as they lined up the hundred or so Norfolks who surrendered, out of ammo, and shot them all, bar two lucky survivors who played dead.

Johnny is currently in the transition stage from ASLSK to full on ASL, so this seemed like a good intro-plus scenario for him to play. The aim of the scenario was partly fun, partly teaching, and so Johnny took the SS to practise using Mortars and conducting assaults over largely open ground. SSRs mean that the full company of SS have mended Axis minor SW (LMGs and MMGs) to play with instead of real guns and are so naive at conducting war that they do not receive the extra broken morale in this one. They do receive two 50mm Mortars and, the real threat of the scenario, an 81*mm 3ROF special and very moderate leadership to go with them (8-1, 8-0).

Its a classic ASL MNW day (moderate, no wind) and the action is solely set on Board 10. The Norfolks have to deny the War Crims access to 21 of the stone locations at game end (5.5 turns) from an assault across the open farm land west of the village and receive a classic depleted British 1st line infantry company to do this, together with only two LMG and a couple (8-1, 8-0) leaders to assist. The ELR of two for both sides is the most interesting aspect of this as both the Germans and Brits are quite fragile in this one - who's force will melt away first?

We played this one pretty quickly - its a routine, very straightforward game. I made Johnny pay for every step across the fields and grain on the approach to the village with a couple of ELR failures thrown in there too. However, by the beginning of Turn 4, despite suffering some hits on the way in, he was well-placed to conduct a last ditch assault on the village and he had cracked the northern most corner of the defense and was ready to push on into my back-field - I was beginning to scramble and get organised for the final retreat back to the Board 10 concrete fortress which was worth 9VP of the necessary 21. At that point however, fate intervened and two timely snipers broke the two lead squads of Johnny's northern attack force - this was a killer blow as these two were well placed to start tagging buildings quickly. Johnny continued to push hard but couldn't quite concentrate enough force at the attack apex - it quickly became clear that he wasn't going to make the attack in the face of the obdurate British defense so we called it.

Johnny played this pretty well but in post-game wrap-up we discussed the need to fully utilise the smoke component of the mortar - overall he was unlucky with the big Mortar as he received no rate on his opening two shots and then needed to drag it over the fields to get it into place again, never an easy task. This scenario did show the problems of using mortars to a) hit troops in stone buildings and b) use them in any kind of attack on flat boards as they quickly become left behind and out of sight, but of course are difficult to move. We discussed the need to need to assign the small mortars to half-squads, and then dumping them quickly when they become useless and getting the half-squads to move, move, move. Overall, my Brits were still in pretty good shape with the +3 TEM saving them from the worse of the ELR 2 penalties but Johnny's SS had been knocked about a bit.

The other small flaw that I saw from Johnny was that just as I was feeling some of the punches, he did the classic move of trying to hammer me with Prep Fire in Turn 4 instead of keeping the pressure on and start moving through and past me. This came as a welcome breather just as the pressure was beginning to mount, as I survived the Prep Fire largely unscathed and, of course, I was in no real threat from any infiltrating half-squads. In addition, we wondered if he'd attacked on too broad a front and maybe a little bit more concentration of force would have been a little more effective. All this comes with experience of course and I saw plenty of signs that Johnny can master the game in short order.

Well played sir!

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