Thursday, March 19, 2009

Owlcon AAR: FrF30 Biderman's Escape

Zeb Doyle

Russians: Zeb Doyle
Germans: Walter Eardley

Trying to finish up my Owlcon AAR here, after escaping with a victory over Rob in The Mius Trap, I managed to pry Walter away from running Starter Kit stuff and we sat down to pick out a scenario. Walter really goes above and beyond during Owlcon, running the tournament, helping people out with rules, making real headway in bringing in fresh faces with the SK offerings, and so I felt lucky to get the chance to roll some dice with him. We ended up picking FrF30 Bidermann's Escape, a Friendly Fire offering set in 1944. It didn't seem to quite have the depth of their best scenarios, but still looked fun and fast.

The fast part is obvious with a single look at the card: it's 5.5 turns, half of board 22, fifteen total squads and four vehicles. Not exactly Last Bid territory here. Walter got the Germans, who are entering on one side and trying to exit three squads/vehicles off the far edge. Their fun toys include a 9-2, an MMG, and two SdKfz 10/5, which are 20L-armed flak halftracks with a 6FP IFE attack. The flakwagens are out of VoTG, and are made much more powerful by the addition of a little sheet-metal on their frontal VCA facing. It only gives them 0 AF, but that makes them far more resistant to small arms and also allows them to FG just like any other armored HT. Suddenly, that opens up all kinds of options, like being directed by the 9-2!

Against this marauding force, I got six 4-4-7s, some concealment counters, and a pair of museum-worthy T-26 tanks entering as reinforcements on turn one. These relics have some nice machine guns, a 45L, and robust 3 frontal armor, but the red MP, radioless status, slow speed, and urban terrain make the SdKfz match-up much more even than you'd think. The tanks are nice enough, but a little out of place in 1944. I'd hate to see them meet a PF, let along a Panther! My set-up was pretty straightforward, with everyone strung more or less evenly across the board, and the plan being for the tanks to backstop the line against whichever German threat looked most serious.

Things started off well for me. Walter sent both flakwagens and six squads down my left side, with the remaining platoon to my right just to keep me honest. The initial exchange of fire went moderately in my favor, with a big break for me when Walter parked one of his halftracks in bypass. I got a razor-thin LOS to the vertex from one of my T-26s and managed to immobilize it. That was great, as those fast and small targets were not just machine guns on wheels but also a major threat to drive right through my defense and exit for VC. I had been really worried that Walter would park them in bypass, put the 9-2/MMG in the same location, and tear me up with 16+0 and 16+1 shots, but now that option was out the window.

So, things were going well on my left. Over on the right, things were going fantastically. I'd left a single squad forward to slow down Walter's diversionary platoon and that lone 4-4-7 managed to break a Dashing squad on a 2-2 and get into a firefight taking 16+2s while only dishing out 8 and 4+1s and still win. He then advanced into CC with the last good order 4-6-7 squad in the sector, more to DM the adjacent stack of Germans than anything else, and promptly won that fracas as well. My Order of Lenin winner spent a few more turns chasing Walter's broken rabble, and then ended the game running over to the left side to harrass the main German force.

Obviously, the effective loss of a 9-1, 3x 4-6-7, and an LMG to a single 4-4-7 was huge and meant that Walter's remaining force was now grinding forward against a numerically equal foe. Walter did a great job and managed to get his remaining flakwagen off, but at that point he needed some good dice to go with his good play, and it just didn't happen. It went down to the last turn, but I managed to block off the German exit area pretty well and a last-ditch SMC overrun failed giving me the win. Good times against a great opponent with a well-executed attack. I might have tried the 9-2/flakwagen stacking trick a bit more, but overall this was a classic case of a small and dicy tourney-sized scenario being small and dicy.

One more installment to go...thanks again for reading!


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