Thursday, October 29, 2009

AAR: ITR6 The Ceramic Factory - Response to the Response

Nick Drinkwater

Chris, Matt, Zeb.

Agreed with everything you've all said. With these equal split victory objective games, as the defender, its perhaps a little easier as you really do get to fight the ultimate battle on a battleground and force balance of your own choosing (try AP20 Victory is Life as another example of this where the Russian attackers have to choose force balance quite accurately from the start). Looking at the two factories, I opted to defend the smaller of the two, primarily as it sits up against a board edge and hence the Russian has only three main approach routes - the big factory can easily be surrounded from all four sides by the Russians.

The key decision that the German has to make is how to split his force and yet make it look to the Russians like he has really divided his units in half. I did this by approximately splitting my force numbers 60:40 but in terms of concealed stacks made it look more 50:50. As well as this numbers balance, I also went for a force quality imbalance as all my crappy 447s, 237s etc went in the big factory with only a couple of 4-6-8s to stiffen the line. The small factory was jammed up with all the 548s and 468s so basically in FP terms and morale quality of troops it was more like 70:30. All the heavy SW (HMGs and MMGs) went in the small factory and six of the seven FBL were all placed in the small - all of course unknown to Chris at the start of the game where everything looked about equal under their concealment counters. Finally, all of the mines, wires and roadblocks, a HIP squad, MMG and leader and one of the two AT-Guns were placed to help make the small factory a really tough festung for Chris to take out, but still with the intent of leaving enough initial doubt in Chris's mind on the way things were resolved. Chris would only get to see the wires, and find the mines, and bounce out from the FBLs when he really got upfront and personal - by then I was hoping he was committed to the big factory attack with enough numbers that they might just be too late to come and hurt me in the endgame in the small factory.

And so it proved. Chris did a good job at bottling up the big factory and by G Turn 6 I was down to a squad, two leaders and a crew. I then had the inspired idea of using the sewer to pop up concealed with two units across the other side, but of course I rolled the six to get lost in the sewers, and ended up placed outside the factory by Chris. Very typical. However, the small factory defence of 4-6-8s and 5-4-8s in multiple FBLS with tons of support weapons and good leadership was just too tough for Chris to overcome, especially after one of his FTs choked on its last shot in the last turn (after at least 14-15 shots with no Xs prior to then). Chris tried to bust a hole into one of the FBLs in the last turn with an IS-2 but I calmly revealed my last hidden AT Gun and DI'ed the crap out of the beast to stop that one in its tracks. I was also successful in finding ATMM and fausts when needed (one particular 237 hs first un-HIPed to pop a faust through a IS-2m, got sniped and broke, rallied, popped out to slap a mine and burn a ISU 152 only to go down in a hail of gunfire as it charged up an open road to try and rejoin the fight for the big factory. Posthumous iron crosses with Oak leaves and diamonds for those boys). Luckily I didn't get to bounce a faust of a IS-2m.

The only real downside I could see to the small factory is that there were no internal walls to shield me from Russian 10-2 killstacks once they had entered the perimeter, and also help provide places to rout to safely. This was an issue in the last couple of turns as Chris was able to 'touch' me with a brutal 10-2 monster a couple of times, but the extra FBLs really helped offset this allied to a couple of lousy high rolled shots. A timely berserker also helped me here as that soaked up some more FP desperately needed elsewhere, after also going on a rate spree with a MMG and breaking Chris' other FT squad who then routed back and got hurt by some mines. But at the end, Chris had unluckily ran out of options to bust units into the forts and he was faced by a wall of pinned defenders to get through before he could even try. We had a couple of fun things - the sewer game winner / game loser moment of course, an Improbable Critical by an SU152 on a JgPzIV, another improbable critical from a manhandled 76L Art gun on my only decent squad in the big factory, stupendous runs with both flamethrowers, and the "little 237 that could".

It was a lot of fun, but with the setup advantages of the Germans allied to the toughness of SS in forts at the death, I'd probably rate this 60:40 German. Or I would, if the low ammo rule wasn't there as Zeb described - Chris didn't do a lot of cheap 2+5 shots to try and trigger this and so LA only applied to me on T5. However, as Zeb pointed out, if he'd gone hell for leather for it as the rule encourages, I'd have been there a lot earlier and that would have made a difference - still a bit pro german but the loss of the HMGs early especially would be huge. Zeb's change with maybe a couple less FBLs would be good things to try.


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