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!

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