Wednesday, April 29, 2009

AAR: KGP4 Chapelle Ste. Anne

Nick Drinkwater

German Player (SS): Nick Drinkwater
American Player (US): Stephane Graciet

Stephane and myself are about to start the short KGPII Bridge at Cheneux Campaign Game, but we thought we'd start with a warm-up scenario from the HASL packs to get used to the Mist rules, the barbed wire fences, slopes and pinewoods. This mini-scenario set on the far southeast corner of the Stoumont map fitted the bill nicely being something we could easily achieve in a single evening sitting. To win, the Germans have to ensure that after 5.5 turns there is only one US MMC or less within 2 hexes of a hex containing a roadblock in the core of the US setup area - this RB position is backed up by the small single-hex stone building of Chapelle St.Anne which is adjacent to the main paved road which bisects the American start position. Having a couple of units in this building would fulfil the US victory conditions as this building is also within 2 hexes of the roadblock hex.

Did I say this was a micro-scenario? Its a micro-scenario. The Germans are provided with three 6-5-8s, a 9-1, a LMG, three basic half-tracks and one of the 3/7 MG-toting varieties. And that's it. To foil their dastardly plan, the US receive a single 6-6-7, two 6-6-6s, a couple of 3-3-7 half squads, a DC, a 1945 bazooka, a MMG, a 8-1, and the rock solid belief in the justice of their cause. They are also given the mandatory roadblock and 5 AT mine factors (that cannot be swapped for AP) and the option to HIP a single MMC + SW. Full KGP special rules are in effect - translates primarily as checking twice each player turn to see if the mist changes in intensity and whether the German APCs run out of gas.

Set-up limitations mean that the US can set up in a small ring around the roadblock hex, the cordon of which is divided by the paved road, a parallel unpaved road two hexes to the south and a similar unpaved road three hexes to the north. Stephane had a batch of "?" stacks stacked either side of the roads close to the RB, awaiting the inevitable. With time an issue, and the need to try and avoid going GI-chasing through the woods, I didn't do anything too subtle - just zoomed three of the four HTs straight up the middle until I saw the mines on the paved road pop into view ahead of the roadblock. One HT was detatched to go on a slight detour to the south on the southernmost paved road to see if they could flank the US line and sneak into the Chapel behind them.

Quickly de-bussing, I pushed on hard and fast and started to test the line of "?". Stephane nicely tricked me by revealing the HIP 6-6-6 and MMG in a forward position, but, as was to become the norm of the night, blew it by rolling high. The return SS-fire was devastating and the first US units started to break. I probed a dummy and pushed on, and again very poor rolling meant that a 3-3-7 plus bazooka also broke and subsequently surrendered. At this point Stephane tried his second trap - a "?" I was convinced was a dummy assault moved onto me, magically became a 3-3-7 and tried to dump a DC on my ass. Again nicely played, but the first and then subsequent fire broke then destroyed the lowly half-squad - properly played, but Stephane's dice on morale checks let him down again and that one hurt.

At this point I was in the driver's seat and pushing hard - parity on squads had been achieved, I'd removed the MG from the HT and reunited it with the 9-1, and Stephane's line was rolling back from the protection of the wall to the chapel. I carried on moving forward but was then caught out by sloppy play: I tried to get greedy and whack the retreating 8-1, 6-6-6 and MMG from three hexes with a CX 6-5-8. Missed that, but then an adjacent concealed 6-6-6 (another dummy or so I thought), jumped me in CC, won the ambush (no surprise) and wiped my bad boys out. A 30% force reduction in one fell swoop - nasty!

The end-game was tense and ultimately came down to a he-who-blinks-first scenario. I opted to ignore the newly revealed 6-6-6 which was moving back into the roadblock two-hex zone and concentrate solely on the 6-6-6, 6-6-7, MMG and 8-1 that I'd let retreat back into the chapel. Having cleared a second set of AT-mines from one of the unpaved road (mistake by us as these should have been hidden mines, not open ones), I pushed a couple of half-tracks up adjacent to the chapel on the south side. Realising that every single unit was going to be needed, I quickly shot all my prisoners (what a cad!) and pushed these guys into the firing line too - however, Stephane stunned my HT with heavy return fire and I was now looking at 12+5 and 16+5 firegroup shots due to mist, brush and stone building TEM effects and these were not guarantees.

To assist this small southern force, I pushed the 6-5-8, MG and 9-1 into the woods adjacent to the chapel on the northern side, but I was going to need to survive an absolutely critical 30+1 shot in return on the Prep Fire of his last turn. Of course, Stephane's horror-dice came to my rescue and I ended up with a simple NMC which I passed easily. This really was the crucial shot, as I now how had an encircling 24+3 shot in return - the GIs are NOT the SS and both the 8-1 and 6-6-6 broke and were then killed for FTR. Big PHEW!

There were now two surviving US squads on board, both of which needed to survive the final German turn - the one by the roadblock I was going to effectively safely ignore, but this meant breaking or killing the encircled chapel-ensconced 6-6-7 + MMG were the key to a win for the Reich. If they survived my 24+3 Prep Fire, then they were looking at giving me some hurt with a 24+2 shot in return which could prove awkward. So here goes - warm dice on my part resulted in a 1MC on the 6-6-7 and they folded as Stephane's dice hurt him yet again with another MC failure.

Peiper 1, Yanks 0.

Not a bad little scenario, but at only three squads apiece, definitely prone to a few luck fluctuations. The mist dropped from Heavy to Light during the course of the scenario but at the ranges this was fought, that meant it was an ever present +1 LV hindrance for both of us. Stephane definitely was on the wrong side of the luck curve, but the one time it did fall into place for him on the ambush turned crucial as I was then left at breaking point with regards infantry numbers, and it could definitely have gone either way at the end. If his big 30+1 shot had paid off, I may have struggled to rally the 658 in time again and thus the end-game advance and CC would have been left to two 3-4-8 half-squads, (one of whom may still have been concealed to help a little, depending on defensive fire results), but by no means would that have been an absolute certainty.

Anyway, next up is Cheneux where my doughty SS panzergrenadiers are going to kick some US paratrooper ass with the aid of some mighty flak trucks!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Austin Gameday Report - April 2009

Zeb Doyle

I'm happy to say that the April game day was flawlessly hosted by Matt Shostak and was a big success. There was a decent turn-out, boosted by Mark Carter from Houston and Scott Bell and Hondo from San Antonio. Thanks for making the drive, guys, and thanks even more for bringing the great coffee, Mark. A lot of good ASL got played, but the best part of the day was seeing all those motivated newbies. They really lucked out, getting Shostak, Seningen, and Reinesch as their tutors. With ASL gurus like that showing them the ropes, they'll be more than ready for action in time for the Austin team tourney. Hope to see and play some of you guys there!

Some of the scenarios played included classics like The Duel and Fighting Withdrawal. I was lucky enough to get a great opponent (David Longstreet) in a great scenario (ASL61 Shoestring Ridge) that I'd been wanting to play ever since Code of Bushido first came out. It's a night scenario on the bare ridges of boards 2 and 25, with a thin American force trying to stop a horde of Nipponese from exiting. I got the Americans and was pretty worried after setting up. I actually spent a ton of time preparing, something I rarely do, but never felt like I could figure out a solid defense. In the scenario, the Japanese only have to exit 20 of a possible 70 points (and that's not even counting the possibility of exiting captured American equipment) and have a leisurely 8 turns to go 16 hexes.

Shoestring Ridge is balanced on ROAR, so I figured I was missing something, but I still didn't fancy my chances against the skill and savvy of Longstreet-san. Once the game got going though, it became apparent that yes, I was missing something....the terrain (especially on board 25) is wide-open enough to give the Americans a good view of the attack, but there are enough gullies, craigs, crazy elevation changes, and cliffs to really channel the Japanese. I also had a secret weapon: my dice. I rolled about a bajillon boxcars, but they were all on starshell scatter rolls and as such were relatively painless. Pretty much everything else I rolled was under David's SAN of 5, and he added to the fun by rolling nothing but 10s and 11s on his MCs. He saved his boxcars for minor things like MCs for leaders and crews carrying HMGs. The one snake-eyes he had sent a 4-4-8 Berserk and charging into a 16-1 attack...where I rolled a 3. With one-sided luck like that, the Japanese attack ground down pretty fast and we called it on turn six. Great scenario but marred by crazy dice. If anyone is interested, I'd love to try this one again as the attacker. Thanks to David for meeting my torrent of threes and fours on 2+0 and 2-1 shots with a smile.

The game of the day might have been Eric Gerstenberg vs. Brian Roundhill in CH167 The Warlord's Estate. I'd just played this one last week, and it was a lot of fun watching these two wily veterans matching wits and seeing what they did differently. It's a Japanese vs. Chinese scenario and both sides get some fun toys, with a Zero, a 50-cal HMG, a pre-WWI Italian mountain gun, and a Mark C carrier all making an appearance. Even though Schwoebel trashed me in my playing ( my Japanese attack went nowhere against a solid Chinese defense), we were all thinking it's mildly pro-Japanese. Now though, after having seen a few tricks Brian pulled, I think there's a Chinese set-up that could be pretty nasty. Putting the balance question aside, the game between Brian and Eric turned out to be super close and featured a pretty amusing end game situation that might be worthy of discussion:

Let's say it's the last turn of the game, and you have to break one last Chinese 3-3-7 squad. He's in a foxhole with open ground all around it. You've got a 4-4-7 adjacent who has already prep fired, and enough assorted crews, half-squads, leaders, and striped squads around that you can get another 6FP of units adjacent and potentially get a 4+2 AFPh shot. The only problem is that the unbroken Chinese 3-3-7 is almost entirely surrounded by brokies (from your PFPh) that you can't move though, so all your units have to move into a single adjacent hex. You also have a nearby tank that has enough MP to park on the 3-3-7 but not overrun him. Do you lock down the 3-3-7 by parking the tank on him or just run everything you have into the adjacent open ground hex to support the 4-4-7 there eating a 6-2 for someone and 2-2 resid attacks? If it matters, your units are a mix of 7 and 8 ML, with two 9ML leaders. So, what do you do?

In the actual game (no peeking ahead for answers, now!), things didn't work out quite this smoothly, but more or less Eric parked the tank on the 3-3-7. There was a 4+2 AFPh shot from the infantry and a 6+2 from the tank and the 3-3-7 ended up pinned. The Japanese infantry piles in for a 3:1 HtH attack and wins easily, right? Not quite...the presence of the tank makes CC sequential, and the cunning Brian goes for a 1:4 attack on the bulk of the Japanese infantry. He needs a 5 and gets a 4, dropping Eric to a 1:1 return attack. The Japanese now need to roll a 7 for the win and just barely do pull it out. If the 3-3-7 hadn't pinned, Brian could well have wiped out the entire stack for the win. So, VBM sleeze-freeze, not always the war winner it's reputed to be!

One other note, this one for anyone still on the fence about LFT's Operation Chariot. I brought it to the game day and passed it around. The overwhelming response? "Wow, lots of new's not for me."

Thanks for reading and a huge thank you to Shostak for hosting the great game day,


Sunday, April 05, 2009

AAR: AP22 Ghost Riders

Matt Schwoebel

Germans: Eric Gerstenberg
Russians: Matt Schwoebel

Winning and losing in ASL can be all about the pre-game preparation. So when I invited Eric the Gberg over on a Friday Night to drink beer and pick a scenario for Saturday morning, I made sure to stock the fridge with tempting, quality beer. We drank and looked through scenarios eventually settling on Ghost Riders. After looking at ROAR (favored Russians 25-16), the boards and tough victory conditions, we decided the German/Italian player should get the balance. As Eric stumbled out the door, we agreed to roll for sides the next morning.

Ghost Riders uses two half-boards 11 and Y with hexrows A-Q playable and is 6.5 turns long. It features a combined German and Italian force attacking Russians in winter (Ground Snow, Winter Camouflage) during January 1943. The Axis player must control 22 out of 26 buildings (all wooden by SSR) on Board Y at game end. Most the Axis force sets up on the Board 11 hill and includes 10 x 4-4-7 squads, 2 x 75mm* crewed ART guns, and 5 MGs (1 heavy, 1 medium, 3 light) with good leadership (9-1, 8-1, 7-0). They receive two reinforcement groups. One Italian group with an 8-0 and 3 x 3-4-6 squads entering on Turn 1 behind the hill (east edge). Also entering from the east is the German elite force of an 8-0, 3 x 5-4-8 riders, 2 x Mark IVF2s (75L armed) and a Mark IIIJ (50L armed). This German groups normally enters on Turn 2, but with the balance given entered on Turn 1.

The Russian defender sets up anywhere on Board Y which features a forest with a few buildings behind it on the left side (defender's perspective) and a spread out village to the center-right with one tight group of 6 single-hex buildings on the defender's right flank. The Russian player has 12 squads (1 x 4-5-8, 9 x 4-4-7, 2 x 4-2-6), 3 leaders (one 8-1 & two 8-0s), 5 MGs (1 heavy, 1 medium, 3 light), 2 ATR, 14 concealment counters, and 4 AT mine factors. On Turn 4 they receive a reinforcement group from the south (defender's right) with 9-1, 3 x 6-2-8 riders, and 3 x T-34 M41 tanks.

Eric arrived almost on time (miraculously) power downing an energy drink and looking ready for a long nap instead of an ASL slugfest. We rolled for sides and I received the Russians. Looking over Board Y, I decided to concentrate my defense on the right edge Festung of 6 buildings (Q6 was an open ground overlay). My goal was to delay his attackers and ideally make him work for the 4 buildings (1 on an overlay in F9) behind the left side forest. Holding 5 buildings would mean victory for the People's Revolution. The Festung had several squads including an 8-1, 4-5-8, HMG combo. It had the added advantage of being where my Turn 4 reinforcements came in. The forest contained just two 4-2-6 squads initially. The rest of my force was positioned behind the first road in buildings including the MMG in J3 with nice sight lines to hit any infantry in open ground. I mostly used the ? to conceal real units, but also put one stack of 3 dummies in an up-front building (L3) to threaten more open ground approaches. Searching for good AT mine spots, I found 5 non-bypass bottleneck hexes for tanks to drive through (H2, K1, M1, O1 and Q2). I placed 2 factors in the H2 crossroads to prevent the tanks from moving down the forest road and 2 factors in the O1 hex the most direct route to the Festung. All roads were unpaved.

The two 75* (non-emplaced by SSR) were set-up by Eric on the edge of the Board 11 hill in hexes E1 and C2. Eric's attack on Turn 1 consisted of moving infantry into position. He took advantage of winter camouflage to assault move - advance and stay concealed. The 3 tanks drove up onto the hill and unloaded their 5-4-8 riders. A decent amount of forest, hedges, walls and buildings restricted LOS between Boards 11 and Y. That said with opening prep fire it became apparent that my nice Festung had the disadvantage of being in LOS of both 75* guns. Eric also created an Italian kill stack with 9-1, 2 x 4-4-7s, HMG, and MMG. My leader directed HMG tried answering these treats but with little success or rate.

Turn 2 was similar with the tanks freed from their infantry burden attempting to move into threatening positions and Axis infantry slithering forward. Both of his vital 75L armed Mark IVs ran into my minefields and immobilized. It really was tough to avoid jumping up and down in glee. Eric's C'est La Vie life attitude resulted in him passing a personal morale check. The tank in O1 at least had an LOS to the Festung and the one in H2 stared at my MMG stack. I moved an LMG toting 4-4-7 into the forest to help stop the sinuous wave. Another 4-4-7 with an ATR almost took a shot at the immobilized Mark IV at the crossroads, but decided against valor and moved into the forest still concealed.

In Turn 3 the Axis force started taking its first buildings on the edge of town and pushed into the forest. The 3 ? counters in L3 took repeated fire from Eric's kill stack for 3 fire phases before revealing themselves as a single drunken conscript consuming homemade vodka. Some units in the Festung were broken by the 75* gun fire and 75L fire from an immobilized Mark IV, but they could withdrawal out of LOS to rally in N6. At some point here my MMG stack was broken and left that heavy equipment behind.

In Turn 4 Eric continued pressing forward with infantry and I was forced back in both the forest and left side of town. After finding my minefields through the most painful method, Eric deviously placed the 50L Mark III in hex Q2 where it could both see my rally hex of N6 and also down the board edge that my T-34 with rider reinforcements would enter. Russian reinforcements entered to cheers of the defenders. The Mark III failed to eliminate the tanks or strip off their riders. One 6-2-8 with the 9-1 joined the Festung defenders. The other two squads were dropped off in buildings L7 and K8 to keep Eric from turning the flank and approaching the Festung from two sides.

In Turn 5 the pressure intensified with all of the left half of town (center of Board Y) in Eric's hands and some of his squads were pushing out of the forest into buildings. Both of my 4-2-6 forest defenders deserve special merit for their successful 8 flat shots against advancing Axis who considered them dummie stacks. My Festung defense force was in increasingly poor shape with the Italian HMG/MMG stack, two 75* guns, 75L tank, and 50L tank doing continuous damage. The T-34 tanks at this point went on a rampage. Some of the Axis infantry was in the open advancing toward the Festung. I used the T-34s to flatten these groups with overrun and point blank MG shots and also to DM any broken units. Eric's 50L Mark III failed to get APCR and had limited use against frontal T-34 armor. At this point a 6-2-8 managed to retake hex K6.

In Axis Turn 6 one of the T-34s was destroyed by the immobilized Mark IV in O1 (this Mark IV would then be destroyed in defensive fire by another T-34). Eric attempted to move his Mark III out of harm's way and his last mobile tank was destroyed. A Russian conscript squad behind the forest mass in B6 again defeated the attacker's moving to take that building. Eric attempted to push forward toward the Festung, but the T-34 attack in Turn 5 had decimated his infantry and DMed otherwise rally-possible infantry. When this attack failed, Eric surveyed the battlefield before Russian Turn 6 with only one movement phase available to him. The situation was grim for the Axis. The Russians controlled 6 Festung buildings (M6, N5, N6, O6, P5, P6), 4 buildings on the outskirts of the Festung (K6, L7, K8), one in the far corner (O10), and the forest edge conscript held building (B6). Only two - L7 and O10 - were unoccupied by Russian units. With no mobile AFVs and only 3 or 4 squads left unbroken, Eric threw in the towel. It is a rare day when Eric surrenders a turn early. He is renowned for tenacious comebacks against the odds.

Ghost Riders is a fun, challenging scenario. It is tough on the attacking Axis and I believe giving the balance to the Axis makes it a fair fight. Overall I played the Russian defense well and made good set-up and strategy decisions. Eric attacked with gusto and had the misfortune of immobilizing his best anti-tank AFVs on mines. About the only criticism I had during our post-game review was his dropping off of the 5-4-8 squads on the hill in Turn 1. I think they would be better placed being driven to the far forest edge and dropped off there on Turn 2, then swinging behind this woods belt to take the far buildings, corner any Russian units in the forest and eventually attack the Festung from the flank.

Thanks for reading!!

Matt Schwoebel

AAR: AP48 Up Inferno Hill

John Hyler

German: Tom Gillis
Russian: John Hyler

Last weekend, at the HHS group meeting at my house, Tom Gillis and I matched up in AP48, Up Inferno Hill. Tom was the German player and I the Russian. Although Tom and I have not played that frequently, all of the games have been immensely fun and I looked forward to another entertaining match-up. I was not disappointed. Unfortunately, I did not have access to a digital camera to take the illustrative photos that enhance other AARs, so hex numbers will have to do to pinpoint areas of interest.


Since Matt Shostak cogently analyzed the attractions of this scenario in his AAR when he played against Rick Reinesch, I will not restate what has already been eloquently written. Having read his AAR, I had to assume that Tom had done the same. Matt's avenue of attack as the Germans made a lot of sense, as it limits the early exposure of their forces to enemy fire, while offering a strong attack on the first objective hex.

Because of that, I had to assume that Tom would possibly try the same attack avenue. Therefore, I decided to make it as problematical as possible for him should he so do. Should he decide on another attack route, I wanted to try to channel Tom's attack. The hills on board 58 effectively divide the playing area in half. South of the hills, the terrain is liberally strewn with copses of woods and a wadi that make AFV manuvering difficult when approaching the hills. North of the hills is much better tank terrain, albeit with wadis to contend with. I decided to set up to induce Tom to enter his forces north of the hills. Should he do that, then I would be able to more easily manuver my forces south of the hills in comparative safety.

I placed my 1 factor AT mines in 58Z4, Z5, Y5 and X4. 6 factor AP mines went in 58W3 and W4 to make use of the gully approach to 58W5 troublesome. The other 6 factor AP mines were placed in 58M4 and M5 to guard the hexes north of the 58L4 objective. Wire went in 58X5 and V2 to hinder the approach to W5 and in 58M2, L2 and K3 to hinder the approach to L4 from the north. Trenches were placed in 58W5 and V4 and in 58L4, L5, K4 and K5. The K5 trench would serve as the L4 rally point, out of sight of the off-board artillery observer, and hopefully out of sight of enemy units for quite some time.

Two 4-4-7 squads under ? were in 58W5 and one 4-4-7 under ? was in 58V4. My kill stack with the 9-1, 2 x 4-5-8, LMG, MMG, Hero and ATR under ? started in 58K5. Assault/Advance mvt would enable them to cover the W5 objective with -2DRM MG fire. I placed 3 x ? dummy stacks in 16Y2 and X2, and a 2 x ? dummy stack in 58W10. The T34-43s went in 16S2 and S4, both HD, under ? and facing the east edge. A 4-4-7 under ? on a Level 1 counter was placed in each of building hexes 16O3 and O4. My hopes with all of this actual and fictitious firepower on board 16 was to dissuade Tom from entering his vulnerable motorcycles on board 16. Should he decide to enter on Turn 1 either at 58GG5/6 or 33A5/6, hopefully his Turn 2 reinforcements would also take that route.

I placed a HIP 8-0 and 4-4-7 in 58T7 to serve as a hopeful rally point for the squads on the W5 objective. A HIP 2-4-8 and 50MTR started in 58L4. A 2-4-8 and FT started HIP in 58K4, to hopefully greet any huns around L4 with an unpleasent welcome. Hoping that Tom would run his armor through the gap between wadis on board 33, I placed the 45LL in 33T5, with a T4/S5 CA. The dug-in T34-41 was placed in 58M3 with an N3/N2 TCA.

Early Turns

Tom placed his off-board artillery observer and I then place my on-board forces and play commenced. On his first turn, Tom dropped Smoke into his preregistered hex, 58Y5, and his first troops entered via 58GG5/6. The StuH42 and StuGIII first drove to points south of the hill (uh-oh!). However, the MCs and remaining two StuGIIIs drove north of the hill (yes!). Wire and entrenchments started to become visable at this point and on on the game. During his first APh, a cautious probe with a HS found the minefield in W3 and broke after the 6FP attack. This HS would subsequently die in a later turn trying to exit the hex. However that minefield discouraged Tom from any further forays up the gully. I did not do any DF either as FF or DFPh final fire, choosing to wait. The only activity in Russian 1 was to advance my kill stack to 58L5.

In German 2, Tom brought his remaing forces on partially in 58GG5/6 and 33A5/6. Using the squad in 58V4 and another in 58L5, I was able to strip concealment on all of his incoming vehicles. The PzIII(FL) drove to 58AA6 (motion), the SPW251/sMG to 58AA8 (stopped). The StuH stopped in 58Y7 and the StuGIII stopped in X6. The remaining motorcycles moved to points north of the hill. The Panthers and SPW251s entered at 33A5/6. The Panthers stopped in 33P3 and N3 and the SPW251s stopped in 33P7, O7, and I believe M7 (YES!!). A StuGIII stopped in 58S3. I cannot recall where the third StuG drove.

In the Russian DFPh, I sprung the trap, revealing my 45LL in 33T5, looking at all of those beautiful side shots on both Panthers and one StuG, and with 3 loaded SP251s just a click away. Regrettably, the 45LL proved unequal to the task. The crew forgot their APCR, so the best chance (net 8 TK) was lost. Two shots of convensional AP rounds failed to penetrate the side armor of the Panther in P3 and fully revealed the 45LL. Not good. The buried T34-41 revealed itself, not finding any APCR, but still stunning the StuG in 58S3. That StuG would eventually die via UK.

In Russian 2, PFPh, I decided that shooting at the Panthers with the 45LL wasn't working, so I clicked the gun and shot at the SPW251 in P7, which carried a squad, dm MMG and the 9-2. A hit with rate and successful TK roll dispatched that SPW to Valhalla, but without burning. Tom rolled stoutly on the CS rolls, saving both the squad and 9-2, but losing the crew. Still, that result was fine, as it effectively removed the 9-2 and company from the game for a few turns. I decided then to take one more shot at a Panther and bounced another side shot, losing rate. The T34-41 turned its turret and missed its target. During the movement phase, I started the T34-43s on board 16 and drove them to 58BB8, immobilizing with a bad ESB roll, and to 58BB9, staying in motion.

Later Turns

From this point on, events start to run together, so the exact sequence of events is lost. However, Tom managed to first break and then take prisoner the 45LL's crew, and act of mercy that would prove calamitous. The SPW/sMG started and moved towards the saddle. I eschewed shooting it with the adjacent T34, since I had an acq. on the StuH's side. When the StuH started, The T34 then drilled it with a round. The crew survived.
Tom moved the StuG in 58X6 drove to and overran the Russians in V4, staying in the hex to freeze them. During the ensuing CC, the squad managed the near-impossible and destroyed the in motion StuG. The the PzIII(FL) drove to W6, stopped, and hosed the two squads in W5 with a 30 flat shot. Tom rolled an 11, acking the FT, but breaking the two squads. In his next MPh, while withdrawing, the PzIII bumbled into the AT mines in 58Z5, getting incinerated in the detonation. The two squads routed to 58BB3, later dying as Tom then invoked NQ.

The Panther's zeroed in on the buried T34, eventually killing it. However, with no other targets to shoot at, he tried to start one and immobilized it with an 11. The other one managed to get moving and drove to the saddle area and stopped again. From there it skewered my mobile T34-43 in a later fire phase.

In Russian 3, the SU-122s arrived, one driving toward the saddle, and the other stopping on the southwest side of the L4 hill. That one was destroyed by Tom's last StuG. The SU-122 in the saddle stopped out of sight of the Panther, but managed to knock the SPW/sMG into an adjacent hex with a HE round. When Tom tried to start his last Panther, he rolled another 11, immobilizing it where it could do no further harm to me.
During this swirl of combat, Tom moved his artillery to the L4 area, eventually centering it on L4. That was my time of greatest peril, since my kill stack, and HSs with the FT and 50MTR were all trapped in the blast area. They managed time after time to survive 16 up 2-4 shots unscathed.

Russian 4 saw the much anticipated arrival of Corporal Hylerovich and smg squads with their full bottles of Ever-Clearski. Alas for Corporal Hylerovich, he fell victim to a sniper's bullet while performing an enebriated cossack-dance on the turret of his T34 transport. The unencumbered T34-41 tried to move too far, becoming immobilized after failing its ESB roll. However, the remaining T34s with leaderless squads made their way to 58J5 and J6, where they stopped and unloaded the squads.

With that move, Tom made what I felt was a crucial mistake. He converted the FFE raining down on L4 from full-strength to harassing fire in order to affect the squads in J5 and J6. That effectively saved my troops guarding L4, since a 4 up 2-4 shot is of course much more survivable than a 16 up 2-4. It would have been only a matter of time before those troops would have broken and died under the unrelenting bombardment.
During these turns, the 2-4-8 with the 50MTR had moved to 58K4. From there, they attemped pot-shots at the German squads visible on board 33. Time after time, the familiar words "no hit, no rate" were uttered. However, Tom decided to use his prisoner crew to assist the HS in pushing the 45LL, which the HS now possessed. They succeeded in moving the gun to 33T4, but no further. Trying one last time, the 50MTR fired and the German HS and Russian prisoners (we're Russians, we do that), Hit---no rate. The effects DR succeeded in breaking the German HS, but the prisoner crew survived the MC. I do not think that Tom needed to rout out of the hex during the RtPh, but rout he did, leaving my escaped, unarmed crew in the same hex with their 45LL!

In Russian 6, they could not find the gun during the RPh, but managed to in the MPh, taking possession with the gun pointing on a perfect hexspine LOS to the rear of his last StuG in 58K1. In the AFPh, they took the shot, needing a 3 to get a hit (base 10 up 7). The dice clattered....3!!! Needing a 9 (base 11TK + 1 rear facing down 3), an 8 was rolled, killing but not burning the StuG. The crew did not survive. With the demise of his last mobile AFV, and with me in a position to protect the L4 victory hex with two T34s and an SU-122, Tom conceded a hard-fought, but exceptionally fun game.


AP48 is a great scenario. I would give it an 8. It offers a lot of interesting options, with the possibility of creating a effective traps. I was gratified that the trap that I set worked as well as it did; however it was a gamble. Had Tom decided to enter full-throttle on board 16, it all would have been for naught. Tom is a skillful and fun opponent. He was plagued with some bad dice throughout the scenario, with his Panther start-up rolls, the Flampanzer shot, and the series of off-board artillery DRs in the L4 area late in the game. I was the recipient of some very good DRs when it really mattered, the CC against the StuG in 58V4 and the last 45LL shot, among others.

With that said, I too believe that the Panthers must not stop until they are in a place where they will have a lasting effect. Matt selected 58X4 and X5 to stop. A case could be made for other level 3 hexes, like 58U4 and V4. Tom greatly hamstrung himself when his Panthers immobilized, since it then was easy to avoid them. The Russians need to contest both victory hexes. A typical German attack will concentrate on first one and then the other, probably W5 and then L4. The longer it takes them to clean out one victory hex area, the less time they will have to attend to the second. All in all, AP48 has a great deal of replay capability. I would play it again with either side.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

St. Nazaire: Operation Chariot First Impressions

Nick Drinkwater

So, I'm a weak willed person with no spine and have gone and ordered this beast too from the Gamers Armory. For a while, I was in two minds on this one too as a) its pretty pricey and b) Zeb's comments on the rules chrome below had struck a real chord with me too, but then again, its ultimately all about a glorious feat of British naval and martial arms and that was the ulimate push over the edge - how can I resist the lure of that? There were like, three VCs awarded for this alone - brilliant!

Like Zeb though, this was not the no-brainer of most other ASL purchases due to the high costs and esoterica involved - I am hoping this one doesn't just sit on my shelf unplayed, but actually, thinking about that, there is not much in my ASL collection that hasn't at least seen one or two playings from something within it. The Special Forces pack waits to be opened as does VOTG, Tarawa, OVHS and OWT, but most of the other stuff has seen, or is about to see, some kind of use.

Anyhow, looking forward to seeing how Major Newman and Commander Ryder fare in the ASL version of one of favourite and best solitaire games, the old AH Raid on St. Nazaire which is a total classic!

Anyway, I'm back in town - had a brilliant visit to my home county's Regimental Museum, the "Soldiers of Gloucestershire" museum in Gloucester.

The Glorious Glosters have the most battle honours of all the pre-1994 merger regiments of the entire British Army, including Ramilles, Waterloo and Dunkirk, as well as the Imjin River in 1951 where they received a Presidential Unit Citation. They are also unique in British Regiments in being allowed to wear a cap badge on both the front and back of their caps, to remember the feat of arms in Egypt when the regiment's second line turned about face and defeated one of Napoleon's lancer regiments attacking their rear - no time to form square in that one, but they survived all the same. Its a brilliant little museum that follows the two parent regiments, the 28th (North Gloucestershire) and 61st (South Gloucestershire), together with the Royal Gloucestershire Hussar Yeomanry cavalry regiment that fought hard in the western desert amongst other places. Once they had been merged into the Gloucestershire Regiment in 1882, they have an amazing miliary record through both World Wars - the 1st Battalion fought their guts out in the retreat through India in 1942 as part of 17th Indian Division, while the 2nd Battalion was essentially destroyed in Wormhoudt and Cassel on the retreat to Dunkirk.

They even have three original Victoria Crosses in Museum too - if you are ever in the West Country in England, instead of being a sheep and going to see Bath and all the jesters and jugglers entertaining all the other slack-jawed US yokels, take a short trip upto Gloucester to check out this museum - well worth the journey!

Sadly, the unique identity of the regiment was killed off by the Tory Govt and it was amalgamated with the Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments in 1994; the current Labour Govt did not change this policy and forced more mergers with the Devonshires and Dorsets and Light Infantry - together, they are now all component parts of The Rifles Regiment now which is serving proudly in Afghanistan as I write.