Sunday, April 05, 2009

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.


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