Thursday, September 27, 2012

AAR: FrF4 Barbarossa D-Day

Nick Drinkwater

German (ELR 4, SAN 2]: Walter Eardley
Russian [ELR 2, SAN 2]: Nick Drinkwater

A very rare Drinkwater-sighting in Houston!

Yes, its true, I'm on a flying visit through H-town to do the annual medicals, dentists and opticians, but as well as all that work-related crap, I'm able to squeeze in a single night of gaming with Mr. Eardley, as well as pick up and pay for this year's games stash that he's been secreting for me. This year coming back with me to Angola, we have GMT's Infidel and Flying Colors 2 - the Serpent of the Seas, as well as MMP's Kingdom of Heaven and a good quality, used version of B-17 which I snagged on ebay. Funnily enough I have to leave behind my new copy of the game 'Angola' by MMP as that wouldn't be well received by the customs agents in Luanda!

As ever with me on these trips, time is of a premium but there is just enough to get in a quick scenario so that I can pretend to keep my hand in / give Walter easy win points (delete as appropriate). The last scenario I played was a year ago when Matt completely outplayed me and handed me my ass in a game of Ivanovsski so it’s been a while...

Rolling for sides gives me the godless proles from Asia who have to try and hold onto the Board 43 Alamo until game end (6.5 turns) vs. a bunch of Hitlerian hells angels. (In English, six 447s, a couple of LMGs and weak leaders at start, vs. a 221B armoured car and seven mixed 467s and 468s on motorbikes and sidecars). Armour support comes in Turn 3 for both teams - two 50mm Mk IIIs and an old style 37L one for the Hermans (all with those stellar bow and co-ax MGs) and six T26s for the Ivans - great gun, but that's about the only high point - saddled with the killer platoon movement to make their life harder, they also have red mechanical reliability issues and paper thin armour. If there's a good order Russian MMC within two hexes of the center of the Alamo, then chalk up another annoying delaying victory for the Glorious Revolutionaries; if not, then its bratwurst eating time in Moscow.

The first three turns were effectively the appetizer to the main event, the appearance of the tanks. Walter comes on with the most direct attack from the southern board edge of Board 44 and despite having a half-squad shot off bikes, is pretty quickly into my speedbump which sadly go down as prisoners. The defenders of the perimeter of the Alamo are made of sterner stuff though, and though I was ambushed even though I was the concealed first line squad jumping onto a 467 (go figure), I was able to eventually dispatch the fritzes to bring it back to a 1 vs. 1.5 squads lost by Turn 2 – and this is a game where the infantry matter. Some inspired shooting and hang-tough defense meant that I was twice able to break and roll back the point of Walter's attack, even with mega tank MG attacks in Turn 3 – I was even able to dash and then battle harden a squad back to the main festung - style point city!

So far, all good. Walter kept breaking MA guns and I was rolling with inspiration instead of desperation for once. All was brewing nicely for the main course of the armour battle...the 37L came on to weigh in against the Alamo defenders, while the two 50mm gun ones moved ready to recieve the rush, sorry, make that grinding crawl of my six armoured heroes of the Soviet Union across the large grain field immediately east of the Alamo main building. The first T26 platoon inched on and ground their way to the back entrance of the Alamo dodging a bunch of first fire from the two 50mm Mk IIIs, leaving themselves able to suppress any Germans trying to cross the innermost Alamo courtyard. My other T26 platoon humped their way into the Grainfield but missed every shot in advancing fire, of course breaking one gun, but at least leaving acqisitions on their opponents for next turn. Finally my Commissar with the newly toughened 458 and another 447 leapt into CC with an adjacent 50mm Mark III. Needing a 7 and a 5, they both missed their cc attacks which was hugely disappointing and a grim addition to the three missed advancing fire shots from the grainfield platoon…in a pattern not unfamiliar to my visits to Walter’s house, my dice go cold just at the wrong time. Plus ca change…

The German Prep Fire phase of Turn 4 was basically the game – after a succession of hideous German rolls for the first three turns, the two 50mm Mark IIIs decided it was now time to became marksmen, first class…hit with a three, keep rate, kill T26, hit with another three, keep rate, kill T26, hit with a 5, lose rate, kill T26, other tank hit in-hex Commissar stack with MGs, miss, hit commissar stack in-hex with MA hit, break, break, break. Done.

We staggered on some more but from a really strong position, I was now in a majorly losing position – the other T26 platoon managed to confront the 37L Mk III that had just broken its gun (for the second time), but both my clutzes missed on their advancing fire phase. Next turn, the 37L repaired its gun (of course) for the second time, found a shell and killed off the fourth T26 before eventually succumbing to return fire. A lone 447 failed to kill a 247 in Melee for three turns before succumbing himself – typical – and Walters HMG squad survived a hit and a critical hit from the last T26 with only a pin. Finally with only the 7-0, a LMG and a 447 concealed and unbroken on the top level of the Alamo left unbroken on the board, I conceded when my last T-26 rolled boxcars on the bottom of Turn 5. Walter still had both 50mm Mk IIIs, the armoured car, the HMG, 2 x LMGs and 5 of his original seven squads plus a 9-1. Time to say goodbye.

A fun game – not bad from me but clearly still pretty rusty as it was my first game in months and only fourth in the last 3 years, but I mis-played the first of the two tank platoons and that was my downfall – the first platoon should have stayed around to help knock out the German tanks and aid the grainfield platoon by keeping them in a cross-fire. However, I became fixated with helping out the desperately stretched infantry in the Alamo by sending them immediate armour support, and at that point the lack of tactical maneuverability due to platoon movement hit home hard. We both thought the CC attempt with the Commissar was the right play, but my dice went cold just at the wrong moment and left them hideously exposed. Walter played his usual methodical, steady game, despite some hideous luck on early dice, and ruthlessly exploited the opportunities when they became available. Well played!

And so back to Angola for some more fun there – hope everyone well and will see you all again in the future!



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

LFT 178: Niederburg Farmhouse

Eric and I played Niederburg Farmhouse a few weeks ago, and the Americans (Eric) won in our match.

I did a deployment, multi-hex attack, but the ROF on the MGs and my bad MC rolling did me in. I advanced my 9-2 led MG kill stack into J10, but Eric's prep fire ruined my DFF surprise.

After thinking it over, I think the German MG nest needs to position itself in H9, and the blue wave needs to come from hexrows J thru P. Two things factor into that thinking

  • the 5-4-8s can man the MGs and still be in normal range to I6.2
  • the Americans in I6.2 must choose a covered arc for either H9 or the hill and its approaches in hexrows J-P

With my MG nest in J10, Eric could shoot both it and anybody else on that half of the board in each fire phase.

It seems like a tough puzzle for the Germans, but with only a few units, any cracks in the American defense can be exploited. It's a great 2 hour scenario, and hopefully my thoughts will help an Axis player out there somewhere.


Monday, May 28, 2012

AAR: BFP90 Early Morning Action

John Farris
Germans: Gregg Parker
Russians: John Farris
Gregg Parker and I finally got a game in.... has it been 5 or 6 months? Seems like it. We played a very interesting game from Crucible of Steel, entitled Early Morning Action - BFP-90. I think I can say that it is a good one to play.... pretty straight forward.

Gregg played the attacking Germans with 12 SS 658s, one each 9-1,8-1 and 8-0 leaders with 5 ELR , an MMG and 3-LMGs and 2 StuG IIIGs...I played the defending Russians , 5-458, 5 447S, 1 - 426, 4- Crews, one each 8-1 AND 7-0 with a 2 ELR.... along with an MMG, 2-LMGs, one ATR, a MOL-P, 2-50*MTRs and 1- 37L AT gun and . Gregg had to take all the hexes within 4hexes from BFP L Q6.

It looked like the Russians would be butter to the SS with the low Russian 2 ELR, but since the Germans had to clear 4 dummy stacks it took the Germans a little time to get to the center of the town. The 2 level building at X1 on the North side of the victory area housed the Russian MMG, 458 and the 8-1 leader in an overwatch position on the second floor. They forced the German to be careful! One MTR was in a foxhole at K5 just south of the victory locations and with a LOS to the southern victory hexes. The other MTR was at T0 with a view of the cross road in the victory area. The 37L AT was initially located south of the town in the woods at E4... since one German Stugs circled to the north and one came directly from east the little 37L was out of place so the crew rolled it to H5 with a nice view towards the crossroads.

The German attack advanced smoothly but the Russian MMG and a Sniper(!?) slowed down the northern arm of the German assault. The other Stug did a little bypass freeze at P6 and stopped in bypass. The next Russian turn saw the MOL-P, sitting quietly in N4, attack the Stug with an immobilization shot!

To make a long story short.... the ebb and flow of the battle ended with the Germans having to make a rush towards the final 4 victory locations. If any of those attacks failed it would necessarily be the end. Well the Germans would have been in place to advance into all the necessary locations but there was an unfortunate failure of the SS troops to make their moral check in the street hex at N5.

All and all it was a fun scenario well worth playing again!!

Best regards,

Monday, May 14, 2012

AAR: PL7 Tigers to the Rescue

Matt Zajac
Germans: Matt Zajac
Russians: Tom Gillis
On Sunday, Tom Gillis and I faced off in Tigers to the Rescue from Critical Hit's new release Panther Line (which is a revision of their Tigers to the Front pack). Set in June 44, this pack focuses on the desperate fighting by Army Group North along the Panther (Gustav) Line just prior to the collapse to their south of Army Group Center during Operation Bagration. This 6 turn scenario requires Tom to simply have more CVP at game end than I do, but I have an option of retreating off an edge for double CVP - but there's a lot of open ground to cross and I don't see this as a likely game winning strategy. ROAR shows it at 6-6 so clearly achievable by either side.
What really made me want to try something from this pack is the map. Beautifully done, it depicts a high hill (level 5 max) in the center with several small villages surrounding it. Historically accurate defensive trenches and wire obstacles are printed on the map, with multiple trench lines running along the third, fourth and fifth levels.
After dicing for sides, Tom pulled the attacking Russians with a decent force mix of 6-2-8s and 4-4-7s, a 76L ART gun, and a T34/43 with reinforcements of 4 AFVs coming in on Turn 2. There are two groups available and decided by dr, and Tom pulled the 2 ea T34/85s, a KV-1S, and an ISU152 - some heavy firepower. The Russians can set up >=3 hexes from any Level 4 or 5 hex giving Tom lots of options for his onslaught and the potential to start with the hill encircled. He masses on the east side of the hill with a supporting force on the south edge of the hill.
Facing him I had 8 ea 4-6-7s with two leaders - and 8-1 and an 7-0. In Turn 1 I had three Tigers arriving from off board, one early version with red MPs and two late war Tigers, with both a 10-2 and a 9-1 armor leader. All my initial forces must set up on either level 4 or 5 hexes on the hill. It's a lot of ground to cover and not much manpower to do so, but if I can delay his advance uphill then go into a reverse slope defense on level 5, and get the Tigers up quickly, I think I can stem the Russian tide.
Well, Turn 1 sees Tom get his infantry and supporting tank into position, with his 76L ART firing up one side of the hill. Fortunately my concealed units in their trenches held their own and the first turn passed without much loss to either side. However, Tom's gutsy decision to reposition his 9-1 leader across open ground was too good a shot to pass up - or so I thought. Of course the resulting morale check turns up snakes, and Tom both Battle Hardens and turns his leader Heroic - so now I've got a heroic 9-2 to deal with. To neither of our advantage, the WX roll starts rain, hindering some longer shots but not really affecting our already close-in fight.
Turn 2 sees Tom advance further up the lower levels of the hill - but the sides are steep (many double crest lines) and its a slow advance. I'm able to break a few squads and move around within the trenchline to avoid repeated acquisitions, but my perimeter is already compressing due to a couple key positions being compromised. Added on, Toms ISU152 takes up position to hammer the opposite end of the hill from the 76L ART while his tanks join the push up the center. In the German half, the WX turns to heavy rain - a mixed blessing for both of us as even point blank shots are affected by a +1 LV hindrance. I manage to get the two late war Tigers into position - one on level three where it can fire across the advancing infantry's front and one on level five in a reverse slope position. As for the early war Tiger, it goes into hunting mode to take out Toms 76L ART, but quicly malfs both its coax MG and MA. At this point I'm sure Tom has the advantage as the flank with the 76L ART is now wide open. As for casualties, it's been light with only a single Russian squad eliminated to a German half squad.
Tom's very aggressive on Turn 3 and his combined tank / infantry attack in the center punches a hole but due to the difficult slopes I manage to avoid having to surrender or eliminate units for failure to rout. Tom sends a T34/76 to finish off my MA-malf'd Tiger on the flank and then up the back side of the hill where it will not only have a great firing position but will deny route paths. The T34 moves adjacent to my Tiger, stops and BANG - boxcars! So now we have a T34 facing a Tiger, both with MA malf'd. Tom barely holds it together ;-) He's in good position though with his infantry across level three, mostly in one long line inside the first trenchline, with a couple units up on level 4. I doesn't look good for the Germans with another halfsquad lost bringing us even in CVP, about a third of the remaining Germans broken, and still three turns to go.
Well, this game shows that however bleak the outlook, things can change fast. On the German half of Turn 3, the WX changes back to rain, and I manage to pull my infantry back behind the crest line on level 5 except for a couple sacrificial units who hopefully with the steep movement costs, burn up another two Russian movement turns and bring us into Turn 5 before the Russians can mass their firepower again. However, I decide on one risky move with the Tiger on level 3 - it moves directly behind the now-Russian controlled level 3 trenchline to overrun a squad in the open. My audacity comes at considerable risk though as Tom throws a DC at the Tiger, but while it hits it fails to damage the Tiger. Sadly though the throwing 6-2-8 squad suffers a MC, rolls HOB, then rolls a 12 and promptly surrenders to an adjacent German squad. After breaking another squad in it's overrun and surviving DF shots from the ISU152 and a T34/85, the Tiger is positioned to take flank/rear shots o n Tom's armor advancing up the hill. At this point the CVP have swung into the German's favor, and the next turn looks ugly for the Russian armor with a Tiger behind it. Being as it is getting later in the day and Tom has to work tomorrow, we decide to call it with a German win. I still think it could have gone either way, with the Germans likely losing most of their remaining infantry but the Russian's hard-pressed to overcome CVP losses from destroyed vehicles.
All-in-all a tense game with bizarrely changing weather - 3 changes in 6 opportunities, dismal sniper performances (11 attempts, only one PIN result), and MA malfs for both of us at critical times.
I highly recommend this scenario as it's a great example of of a deliberate combined arms attack on a well-prepared position. Besides, it has 3 big cats to play with too!
Matt Zajac

Monday, January 16, 2012

AAR: FrF49 One Last Might Hew

Doyle Motes

Russians: Doyle Motes
Germans: Matt Zajac

Tom's event on Saturday was a must see. It has been a long time between meetings for me. But, enjoyed the early moring drive and the ASL event.

I matched up with Matt Z. of north Houston. I was the Russians in FrF 49 - One Last Mighty Hew. Matt Z was the early war Germans. The objective was to hold one objectives and there adjacent hexes (there were 2 objective hexes 50x5 and FrFAI4). The Russians had a mixture of Infnatry, AFV's , AA-Truck, and Trenches. [Typical Russian 1941 units] -- The Germans has a mixed infantry, and AFV's units [PzII(Fl) x 2].

I used my trenches and the trees as my first line of defense (with my Conscrips in some of them). My Conmmissar was there back up if need. My second line was going to be my 1st line infantry (ELR of 2) with a MMG and single ATR. One 107 Art unit, one KV-1 M39 and one ZIS-42-AA on board (on board setup), Turn 1 saw a BT-7-M37 and a BT-7-M37 (4CMG) enter from the east. Also a samll force of 527's x 2, leader, 50 MTR, and LMG joining the battle on turn 1 from the North / East (mine came on form the North).

This turn 1 reinforcements were to be the last line of defense on the hill next to 50x5 and adjacent locations.

The stage is set for the battle: (quick over of game)

Turn 1: was Germans feeling out and finding first line of defense. Russian Armor takes the hill next to VC locations and reinformements move toward VC location. Russian tanks unable to go HD on hill.

Turn 2: Germans hit Russian forward defense line and discover some Trench locations. Small arms fire and one Russian Conscript Consript broke (no ELR on him) and one German Squad broke and one pinned. But, one of the two Pz II(Fl) move up to attack and rolled a 12. This was Matt's typical rolls in this game very hight when he did not need it. The dice were not his friend the entire game.

Turn 3: The Germans made headway into the second line of Russian defense. Now, my Russian Armor could see infantry and started shooting at targets of oppertunity. My dice roll were low to average. But, very low in critical situtations and again Matt's dice were very high. About 50% of his infantry were broken but still in good positions when my Sniper KILLED his 9-2 Leader. He was down to two leaders now and troop rallys became critical thus they could not be on the front lines to aid in firing most of the time.

Turn 4: Germans moving into positions but taking some heat. Russian falling back in some what good order with a ELR of 2 what do you expect - several disrupted units and Failure to routs in the Conscripts ranks. Then Matt decided to use the other Pz II (Fl) as a club on some units and again fate was against him. He rolled an 11 ending that units effectiveness in battle. He still pushed on into the teeth of the Russian Armor sitting on the hill looking down on his units. The end was near for the Geman assult. and Thus we ended it. Russian victory.

Matt this was our first time to play enjoyed the scenario. I feel the scenario is a little pro-Russian even with the German's having 2 PzII(Fl)'s. 55% Russian / 45% German's. Matt may feel a little differently on the precentages.

Thanks again Tom for hosting, Steve for the food, Rob for comming down, and for Matt the game.
Looking to see all in the future.

Doyle Motes