Monday, May 25, 2009

AAR: SP17 Cross of Lorraine

John Hyler

Americans: Chris Buehler
Germans: John Hyler

Last Saturday, at Nick's Super-Cool ASL Pub Party, I had the pleasure of playing against the always affable Chris Buehler. We played SP17 - Cross Of Lorraine, a rather violent firefight set in Alsace, France, in January 1945. The Americans are on defense with a well-armed but armor weak force against a brittle (ELR2) German infantry force that is bulked out with a very strong armor force consisting of two Panthers, two PzIVJs, two PzIII(FL), and two SPW251/1 HTs. Both sides receive a module of 150mm OBA. In spite of the armor superiority, ROAR has the Americans with a 2-1 edge. Therefore, Chris received the German balance. The VC stipulate that the side that controls a majority of building rubble hexes (25+) in a segment of board 20 wins.

Not knowing where Chris would focus his attack, I had to set up a perimeter defense yet attempt to channel his attack. With no ? counters in the force pool mix, I would only be able to gain concealment by setting up out of his LOS. My kill stack went to L2 of hex 20T3 with the 9-2, two squads, 50cal, and MMG. Below it on L1 was the 8-0 and radio, with another squad protecting the ground floor. A second kill stack with the 9-1, two squads and HMG went to U8. The 81 and 60 mtrs went to rear areas with HS spotters in adjacent L2 hexes. The 57L was placed in 20Z10 (CA Y10-21Y1). I placed 6F AP mines in 20R8 and 20Q9 to hamper an assault in the center. The rest of the units were spread around the perimeter, two BAZ units in woods hexes covering the northern road approaches and another BAZ covering one of the middle roads, and the two M10s were placed in 20AA9 and 20W6, out of range of the Panthers, but able to move to reinforce threatened areas.

The last question centered around where to place the fortifications. After reading Zeb's AAR on the same scenario, I decided for my own reasons to place most of my fortifications visible to hopefully channel his AFVs. Therefore, Wire plus a 1ATM were placed in 20Q1 and Q3, and Wire in 20T1 with a 1ATM in 20U1. The roadblocks went in 20T9 and 20S5, both facing the east. The only fortifications that were not placed on board were Wire in 21Y1 with a 1ATM in 21Z1. After Chris set-up, the wire followed soon after by the ATM were revealed.

Having to set-up within four hexes of 21N5, Chris set-up his forces along the 4-hex perimeter, prepared to rush forward. After concealment counters were placed for qualifying units, we were ready to go.

Chris's turn 1 started off well, with his PzIVs remembering to bring smoke with them and succeeding in firing smoke in hexes that severely hampered my 9-2 kill stack from seeing anything. However after that success, things started to unravel for him. During his MPh, Chris lead off with his PzIII(FL)s, moving them within range of BAZ fire. Two BAZ shots and two Ks later, he was minus his two most potent AFVs. Undaunted, Chris started moving his Panthers west on board 21 to threaten my left flank. The German infantry started to advance in covered avenues of approach. The only combat effect was when one of his HSs advanced into the 20Q9 minefield and broke. My MTR fire was ineffective all through the game, as spotted fire is a difficult TH unless the target stays in one place, which was not the case. My radio established radio contact and received battery access with the spotting round drifting from 21U2 to 20U9.

My turn 1 started with harassing OBA falling, after accuracy drift, to 21U3. The overall effect was negligable. I moved one of my M10s to S5, behind one of the roadblocks, since Chris had placed his Leader with Radio in one of his HTs and had positioned them at 20L9. Hopefully, I would be able to gain Acq and dispose of them in my next DF. However, Chris gained radio contact, battery access and an accurate SR in S5 (ruh-roh!). I moved my other M10 to 20FF10, hoping to lure one of his marauding Panthers into the sights of my 57L. My infantry moved a little, but not much. An attempt to assault move a concealed 6-6-7 with the FT and DC adjacent to one of his Panthers met with abject failure after CRing in a MC. The squad in T3 assault moved into S4, and given the German SR in S5, advanced into the cellar in S4.

In German 2, Chris dropped the hammer with his OBA (150mm)on S5. The unfortunate, open-topped M10 was reduced to a pile of burning slag. Five of the six surrounding hexes escaped harm. However, Chris got a CH on building hex S4! The subsequent doubling on the IFT placed the results well into the heavy payload zone, resulting in a 36 down 7 attack on the building. (Chris, we made a slight error in resolving everything on the 30FP column. It made no difference in the final results, though.) The result was an auto-rubble creation that rubbled L1 and above. The building did not collapse nor was falling rubble created. The poor squad huddling in the cellar did not know what hit them after receiving the 36 down 9 attack.

Chris then took the bait I had laid, moving a Panther to 20DD10 (CA 20EE10 - 21EE1). The M10 shot and missed. A reinforcing HT with a leader and squad drove up to 21GG1. I bided my time until he moved his second Panther into 21Y1, bogging down in the wire. In my DF, I revealed my 57L in 20Z10. They found an APDS round and scored a CH on the adjacent Panther, turning it into a burning wreck. They then swung the gun around and took a ROF shot at the second Panther, missed, but hit with an IF shot in the rear, killing it too. Chris's infantry was having a similarly difficult time, gradually getting frittered away due more to ELR reduction than actual casualties.

In my turn 2, the M10 in FF10 shot and killed the HT in 21GG1, killing all of the passengers. With Chris's attack weakening, I made adjustments to my infantry positions to both protect them and prevent easy advances. With another German FFE centered on 20T2 looming, I moved the 9-2 kill stack down to street level in T3 and kept them their to weather the explosive storm. My radio stayed in contact with a new access, with the SR ending up in Y9

German 3 saw more attempts to pierce the infantry cordon. These were largely rebuffed. His remaining PzIVs started up to try to assist the assault. The leader with radio declined to keep radio contact, letting the FFE in 20T2 die a natural death. His HT moved to a different location to prepare for the next OBA request.

American 3 saw the reinforcing M4s arrive, with one of them stopping two hexes away from Chris's HT with Leader and radio, and the other moving in the direction of the PzIVs to lend support. The infantry stayed put in their defensive positions.

By this time, we were out of time, as both of us needed to take off. With most of his AFVs either destroyed, or in "clear and present danger", and his infantry reduced to largely a conscript rabble, Chris resigned.

In spite of the fact that this scenario is decidedly pro-American, I would not mind trying it again with the Germans, with the balance. Although brittle due to their low ELR, they have some very potent toys at their disposal. Chris started fine with his smoke-generators doing their job. However, I think that the PzIII(FL)s needed to be held back until the American BAZ squads were levered out of their initial defensive positions. Their destruction in G1 was a huge relief. I liked the mobile radio that Chris used. That is something that I might try in this or a different scenario.

Chris, I hope to have the pleasure of gaming against you again soon. It was a decided pleasure, win or lose.


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