Sunday, February 28, 2010

AAR: WCW7 Eye Of The Tiger

Walter Eardley

Germans: Rupert Cullum
Russians: Walter Eardley

Rupert and I squared of in the WCW classic Eye of the Tiger. Since I selected the scenario, Rupert picked the attacking SS. The big 280mm OBA was a big dud doing nothing but create a few shell holes and setting some woods on fire. None of this had any affect on the game. Rupert pushed his left flank initially and then decided to switch to a more central attack. On turn four, he was in an excellent position to break through the center with my VBM frozen 9-1 HMG/458 but a 2MC on a 348 and 658 stack left two broken 348s which died for FTR. This took the wind out of his attack and left him dashing for buildings. In the end, I was able to kill both of the ACs and both PzIVhs plus enough infantry to push him over the 30CVP restriction.

Over all, this scenario lived up to the hype. It was very close until that fateful 2MC. If these guys had survived, I would have been pushed out of the buildings in the center and he would have been well positioned to take the back three buildings.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

AAR: SP19 Men From Mars

Matt Schwoebel

American: Matt Schwoebel
Japanese: Zeb Doyle

I hosted an impromptu mini-game day at my place on Saturday. Zeb has returned to the Center for Treatment of Addiction to Squad Leader after too long a hiatus. Seeing the report by Hyler wherein Zeb apparently forgot how to roll dice in his rustiness (if not how to criticize Nick's tastes in everything, always a popular pasttime that we all will soon miss out on), I decided to challenge Zeb to a game. It turned out Eric, a mere several minute walk away (thankfully a far distance when he drinks), and David Longstreet were playing Saturday as well. Thusly the mini-gameday was born.

Zeb and I played Men from Mars (SP19) set in 1944 Burma. I as the defending Allied Chinese/American player and Zeb the attacking Japanese. The game is played on the A-P half-boards of 37 and 38 with the airfield on 38 replaced by overlay 1. Both boards have a mixture of dense jungle, kunai, palm trees, the occasional patch of bamboo or swamp, and rare open ground. The Japanese achieve victory for their immortal Emperor by capturing more than half of the huts on the overlay (11 total) within 8 turns. The area around the huts was the largest area of relatively open ground in the game, but had cluttered terrain in front and to the sides of the village. A meandering road from the left edge of 37 (defender's eye) curves to go through the center of 38 existed.

The imperial occupation force enters from the long edge of board 37. It has 4 leaders (9-1, 9-0, 8-0, 8+1), 15 1st line 4-4-7 squads, 2 crews 2-2-8, 1 HMG, 1 MMG, 3 LMG, and 2 knee mortars. They also have a radio for 70mm OBA with plentiful HE ammo. Assuming a fire group led by the 9-1 and the 8+1 as radioman, this still left two leaders to launch banzai charges through mostly cluttered terrain. SAN 4, ELR 3.

The initial Allied force is primarily Chinese. A rather low firepower group of a 9-1, 7-0, 11 1st line 3-3-7 squads, 1 MMG, 1 LMG, and 1 Lt Mtr (German 50mm). They may set-up anywhere on Board 38 and hexes 5 or less on Board 37. They get 6 extra concealment counters, 10 foxholes, and of course 2 Dare Death squads. The minimal initial American force on Board 38 only has a 9-1, 2 elite 6-6-7 squads, 1 MMG, and 2 foxholes. Two squads may set up HIP. 3 machineguns to leave resid against screaming Japanese seemed a bit light, gulp. On turn 4 the American reinforcements enter from any outside edge of Board 38, but it must be recorded before play begins (curiously does this mean before set-up or before the first roll of dice? And must it be announced?). They included 9-1, 8-1, 6 elite 6-6-7 squads, and 2 MMG. I chose the long, rear edge of 38 to enter reinforcements. Mainly because I feared a HMG firelane if they came in from either short side edge... SAN 3, ELR 2 (Chine se)/ELR 4 (Americans).

Looking at the boards, the cluttered terrain meant setting up too far forward with 3-3-7 squads was in all liklihood suicidal. All told I had 3 squads on board 37 and they were close to the heart of the defense in and around the village. One 3-3-7 with an LMG in a FH took advantage of a board edge water obstacle (pond to non-ASLers) and adjacent swamp hexes to look down the road on board 37, hopefully to slow down any mad dashing Japanese and then run back towards the village unscathed. Two squads set-up together in front of the village on Board 37 at the edge of a jungle area in FHs to hopefully beat up any Japanese squads charging up the center before falling back into the village. A couple of hexes away a couple of dummies also were on this jungle clump edge.

The defense centered on the village itself. The Japanese would need a minimum of 2 turns to get to the village edge, which meant surviving for 2 turns with enough of the village huts in Allied hands when the cavarly... err American infantry... arrived. A couple of convenient bamboo/swamp clusters limited the Japanese to two narrow channels up the middle (leftish flank, dead center along road) and a wider one on the right flank (defender's perspective throughout). I boresighted the American MMG (9-1, 6-6-7, FH) on a key jungle hex (1 of 2 bottleneck hexes) for the furthest left channel and sat the group adjacent to the center road. The other American squad looked straight down the road to a jungle hex 6 hexes away (full 6 FP on Japanese stopping there) and was in the center of the village. The Chinese 9-1, MMG, 3-3-7 combo had a hex on the right flank boresighted that I thought had a Japanese crossing sign (palm tree hex instead of the 2 MP kunai hexes) and was in a FH be hind bamboo in the front right portion of the village. The right flank had so much kunai and palm trees to provide cover I seriously doubted I could defend it. The remaining 7 Chinese squads, mainly in FHs, were scattered around the edges of the village to whittle Japanese forces while falling back. The 2 HIP squads being in kunai on the left and right flanks along attack routes. The second of 2 bottleneck hex on the furthest left route was boresighted by the Lt Mtr. Two further stacks of 2 dummies - one in center of village and one on far right flank. I had two Dare Death squads towards the center of the village... But they didn't end up getting an opportunity to use this ability as both were laterd needed away from leaders who could launch them on their berserk attack.

Gleefully lining up stacks of Japanese squads, Zeb was ready to play. Perhaps bringing a katana and rising sun headband was a bit too theatrical... That's when Eric and David arrived. As the cats ran for +3 TEM, we set-up the new arrivers with a table and then went back to our game.

Zeb dutifully lined up bunches of squads on the board edge and preceded for 2 turns to march forward. I waited impatiently as he counted 2, 4, 6, 8, who do we appreciate, ZEB! The 3-3-7 with LMG successfully intimated Zebbites from dancing down the road.

On Turns 3-4 things started to get interesting. The Japanese began to swarm through the two narrower centerline gaps and around the right flank. Knee mortars put smoke down making the normally dangerous road an easy cake walk. Neither of my MMGs managed to use their boresighted hexes. The Japanese kill stack with 9-1, HMG, MMG, crews and a squad advanced into the American boresighted hex, proceeded to fire in their Prep, and although the American 9-1 escaped the MMG squad broke. In fact, this squad carrying the MMG would never rally. My Chinese MMG tried to stem the tide, but rarely managed rate and broke for a half turn as well. The two forward 3-3-7 squads I had hoped would fall back were swarmed by Japanese and went down in place (failure to route after breaking while encircled).

It sure sounds like things are going poorly for the Allies... But a strange thing happened. The Japanese failed just about every single morale check. Magic 8s and 9s kept appearing whenever Zeb had to roll. The remaining 6-6-7 squad even smoked in managed good shots. The 3-3-7 squads fired effectively too, getting shots from 2-2 to 2+1. I rolled a lot of 5s and 6s. All of the vanguard Japanese half-squads so useful for cutting off route paths were failing checks. At the end of Turn 4, Zeb had troops in the front center area of the village, ones moving into my right flank, a single squad breaking around the left flank after slogging through swamp, and even the 70mm OBA was being lined up. My 2 HIP squads did go into melee with Japanese squads and evened out losses.

Then the 'cavalry' arrived on my Turn 4. Turns 5 and 6 are blurrier than they should be. American firegroups with 8 or 20 FPshots led by -1 leaders firing through +1 to +4 hinderances quickly took their toll on the Japanese. Initially I did not advance the reinforcements more than 3-5 hexes from the board edge, but with the village being relatively open and huts only causing hinderances if an actual hut depiction is crossed... Many Japanese units went from full to striped to half-squads in 1.5 game turns.

At the end of Japanese Turn 7 (I think), Zeb's Japanese had 1 or 2 hut hexes in their possession (needing 6) and I had slowly moved the American reinforcements further into the village. The Japanese artillery lost radio contact and had only managed to break/reduce one squad (one of my Dare Death squads). The center of Zeb's line had been mauled. The right flank attack thwarted. Interlocking Chinese squads and American squads meant any break for the village would require surviving some 6 down 1 shots. With more half-squads than striped squads left (and too few of either), Zeb conceded the game as he didn't have enough force to prevent me from retaking his limited gains.

I had a very short time to bask in the glory of my victory. We ate The Hub sandwiches from just down the road. Eric and David were locked in their scenario and having fun. Zeb and I had played a full 6.5 turns by 1:30 p.m. Zeb graciously offered me a beer to try. It was an imperial stout (read: malt liquor equivalent). I drank it all unexpectedly and he then pulls out some scenarios to look at from the recent Normandy pack...

As the food and beer sunk into my ASL-dazed brain, I agreed to attack as the Brits against Zeb's SS Germans in First Cristot. This game is 6 turns and has an unusual SSR where the British may move the infantry or the armor for their player turn (not both). The British infantry (8 squads with 2 leaders) must have 5 VP reach three small hills at the end of Board 55 (?). To get there they must pass through lots of bocage protected by a small German infantry force (3.5 squads with some concealment counters) with a crewed 50L AT gun. The British armor is in a small village surrounded by the hills and separated from their infantry by the SS. The SS also receive 2 Panthers entering from the edge closest to the British armor (4 x 75 Shermans, 1 Firefly) on Turn 1. The British infantry may move as few as 12 hexes to reach the nearest hill.

Well, there isn't much to describe... I decided to attack on a narrow front and make for the closest hill. Bad things happened. As Nick will testify, 50L guns may go on terrible, terrible rate streaks. I think Zeb shot 8 or 9 times in a row with negative modifiers making half of the hits 12 FP criticals. The 6-5-8 with MMG chewed up more British infantry. We switched roles and rolls with me rolling 9s on morale checks and him rolling 5s on attacks. My tanks did well trading a 75 Sherman for a Panther. But in a mere 3 turns I ended up with an infantry force sized 4 VP (vs. 19 original VP) and conceded.

We discussed it afterward and with such a small German infantry force I should have attacked on the broadest front possible. A missed shot by Zeb's infantry or good shot by my infantry and a gap could be quickly exploited. I attacked towards the nearest objective and Zeb smartly defended that with his greated concentration of FP.

Eric and David played away until 7:00 or so a couple of hours after Zeb had left. All in all a great time.

Now I am looking forward to the arrival of Houstonites this Saturday!

Thanks for reading!!