Thursday, December 27, 2018

AAR: Two Shooting Days Till Christmas [CDN14]

Ed Beekman

Ed: Germans
Ralph: Canadians

Ralph came ready to play a Christmas themed scenario, having selected 5 jolly options.  They include Frosty the Snowman, and Under the Noel Trees.  Shrapnel flying over open fields, MG rounds nipping at your heels and all.  We chose CDN14 Two Shooting Days Till Christmas with Ralph taking the Canadians.   At first glance you would think the Canadians have everything going for them, significantly outnumbering the Germans plus they get 5 Shermans against nothing but 1 hex range panzerfausts as a significant threat.  But nothing says Christmas in Italy like wet, muddy EC and the hill objective is crowned with Germans.  The mud neutralized a potential Canadian advantage, SMOKE.  I had most of my troops shifted more to my right with my HMG assigned the left as compensation.  Ralph weighted his attack to my right with a decent sized pinning force on my left.  First roll of the game was boxcars resulting in Rain.  Now the hill became a real slog, costing infantry 3.5 MF to go up hill, 2.5 down.  The Tanks cost 7 MP to go up hill, so they could only increase one level per MPh without risking Excessive Speed Breakdown. On the first Game Turn my HMG went on a ROF tear, leaving abandoned Canadian SW strewn in the mud.  The tanks moved slowly to control bog risks.  The first tank did bog on the second turn but freed itself on the next.  But on that turn two more tanks bogged.  Not a real problem since they were still in a position to blast my positions.  Ralph was able to neutralize my HMG, a real necessity as it had wiped out about 5 squads, as well as the replacement squad to keep it out of the game after the second turn.  The Canadians were starting up the hill but the attack was faltering as I was able to move units around to maintain a tenuous defensive line.  As the game neared its conclusion the Rain became Heavy Rain making my Height Advantage even more potent.  We realized that the Canadians could theoretically reach the top of the hill but would not have enough movement to control enough hexes once there, so we called it a day.  This scenario really gives you a feel of the horrible conditions in Italy.  It had to be the worst EC of any scenario I've ever played.  I think Ralph was fighting the weather as much as he was the Germans.
Looking forward to see you here in January.  Come ready to play test.

Monday, November 12, 2018

North Texas Shootout AAR

Matt Shostack

Just back from the North Texas Shootout and I have a holiday today so I thought I'd compose an AAR while events are still fresh in my memory.

First of all, many thanks to Ed Beekman for running this tourney and doing an excellent job.  He's been helming this for several years now, and running a tournament is not easy.  The door prizes this year were excellent.  Among them were a Korea module, Hatten, and a BFP product (I can't remember which one but BFP is awesome), along with several other scenario packs such as the "Death to Fascism" pack, and some Winter Offensive packs and an Action Pack or two.  I wound up with a pack from the St. Louis club called "China-Burma-India:  The Lost Theater" which looks really interesting and well-produced, including card-stock scenarios in color and a historical map.  Really great stuff.  The entry fee for the tournament is low, and getting one of these things goes a long way to ensuring you get a lot of bang for your tournament buck.  In addition, the trophies Ed found for this tournament are among the coolest-looking ASL trophies I've seen.  I love that thunderbird look.  Thanks also to the DFW / North Texas guys that helped out.

One of the features of this tournament is that games are supposed to be played from a prepared list of scenarios that Ed puts together.  This is a nice change of pace from the Austin tourney, where anything goes, because it means less time spent trying to agree on a scenario to play.  Ed also has a nice little wrinkle correlating the games played with door prize drawing order.  The formula is secret but the idea is that the more variety you play, the more points you get and thus you'll be closer to the top of the order for choosing, and Ed's list of scenarios had a lot of variety in it.  It included some very old chestnuts and also some new stuff and entries from scenario packs that are lesser-known.  He was also careful to include scenarios that allowed players to try to maximize their playing variety, for example, there was a British vs. French fight set in Madagascar, there was a desert scenario, and there was a scenario featuring a couple of AVREs functioning as bridge-layers, just to name a few.  There can be disadvantages to this approach also, because if some of the scenarios don't look all that appealing to you, the choices can seem to dwindle quickly, but every format has pros and cons, and since Austin is a free-for-all, I like this approach for the Shootout, and recognize the effort Ed puts in to create a decent list.  That's why he's in the HoF, folks.

Now for the blow-by-blow of my games.  In this tourney, the Friday games are mainly for seeding the elimination rounds that start Saturday.  My first game was against Ed himself, and we chose "Magnificent Beasts of Prey" which is a late-war Eastern Front action.  I took the defending Germans and Ed had the attacking Russians.  The Germans had to defend a village with a lot of stone buildings, and to do so they had a small force of SS infantry, supported by a JgPz IV/70 (which has a 75LL) and a StuG, both of which can set up hidden.  The Russians had a combined-arms force with three Shermans, a couple of ISU-152, and couple of SU-100s along with 14 elite squads (4-5-8s and 6-2-8s).  The scenario is from the "Death to Fascism" pack, which has a number of special scenario rules, one of which is that each side can customize its support weapon allotment by purchasing them from a table with a certain number of points.  Facing that much powerful Russian armor, I chose a couple of PSKs for the defenders, plus a DC and an LMG or something like that.  I placed the more powerful tank destroyer to protect the German right flank, where I expected his main attack to arrive, but didn't have the guts to double down on this bet by putting the StuG over there too, instead opting to hedge my bets and use it to protect the far left flank, because in this scenario the Russians have wide latitude on their entry.  Early on two tanks with riders ventured into the field of fire of the JgPzIV/70 and were quickly wrecked.  On the left flank, a Sherman scooted away from the StuG, only to discover a hidden panzerschreck team the hard way.  One of the SU-100s got into a good position atop the hill, but malfunctioned its gun shooting at that panzerschreck team.  The Russian infantry began to press the Germans hard on the right flank of the village, but the defenders were able to reposition some troops to shore up the defenses and beat them back.  The JgPzIV/70 later repositioned and knocked out one of the ISU-152s and soon it became apparent that the Russians would have a really hard time taking enough of the village, so Ed threw in the towel.  Fun game.

Next up was Jim Ferrell, and we chose "Fortune Favors the Bold" which is a 1941 scenario in Russia, where a small force of Germans on motorcycles with five PzIIFs must seize a bridge from a small defending force that gets backed up by a platoon of T-26M33s in the mid-game.  The Russians are dug in around the bridge and have a phone line to call in some 76mm artillery.  I took the Germans again and Jim set up.  Because of the artillery threat and figuring the scenario title was a hint (although it's rather obvious by the game length and other scenario circumstances), I decided to bring the tanks right up close and personal with the defenders, so that at least the artillery would have to be called in very close to his own positions, and possibly stray onto them.  Thus the Germans made a beeline right for the bridge and dared the Russians to shoot back.  The observer saw the tanks arrive and promptly picked up the receiver to let the artillery know now was the time to shell the bridge area, but he couldn't raise them.  Jim rolled a 12 on his very first phone roll, X'ing it out for the game.  Yikes.  The chances of Russian victory took a significant hit right there, but if anyone can soldier on and scrappily contest the game anyway, Jim can, and he did.  The main drama revolved at first around the 10-0 commissar in the stone building next to the bridge on the near side.  He was directing a squad with an MMG, and they soon killed a PzIIF that tried to intimidate them by going into bypass.  The other tanks made nuisances of themselves and drove across the bridge to eliminate the defenders on the other side, a squad with an ATR which never managed to score a kill despite several hits, and the now-phoneless 7-0 in a foxhole twiddling his thumbs.  Just as the Russian infantry was being finished off, however, the T-26s arrived, and Jim expertly used them.  They counterattacked the panzers, and overran infantry on the bridge.  If just one of them survived on a victory hex they'd win, and they proved very difficult to kill.  The Germans peppered them with machine guns, and finally knocked one or two out that way, while the other was killed by a PzIIF swarm.  Still it was a very near-run thing, and kudos to Jim for making it so close despite the early setback.  I think that had the artillery arrived, the Russians probably would have won this one.

Friday's games were used to seed the elimination rounds, and I drew Arlen Vanek.  We chose "Block to Bataan" which as you can imagine is an early-war PTO fight between the Japanese and the Americans.  I took the attacking Japanese and Arlen set up a formidable defense.  To win, the Japanese have to clear a road of American units, but the Americans have a roadblock, some wire, and some mines to make things more challenging..  We mistakenly played with two Stuarts instead of one Stuart and one 37LL antitank gun, and I'm not certain whether this is a pro-American change or not, though I might prefer the extra tank if I were defending.  Arlen displayed a lot of sangfroid in not dropping concealment to shoot unless a really juicy target appeared, and the Japanese just couldn't roll low enough on the attack to strip concealment, so they had to rely on the tanks to use VBM to leverage the assault forward (the Japanese get 5 tanks in this one).  With time running out, the Japanese tanks had to land on 3 different infantry groups to prevent them from counting as Good Order MMCs next to the road, and had to risk bogging on the wire to do so, among other things.  Then the Japanese infantry followed up to protect the tanks in close combat.  Ultimately it worked, but all of them had to go my way and luckily they did.  Arlen played a really strong defense and probably deserved a win here.  

Next round I had my driving companion Rick Reinesch, and we chose "Choiseul Few".  This is a bit of an odd scenario set on--you guessed it--the island of Choiseul, in 1943.  The action has a Paramarine force  defending in a village with hills and stone buildings against a Japanese force trying to barge their way through while being chased by another Paramarine force.  As it turned out I'm not sure I'd recommend this scenario, despite it producing the most memorable end-game drama of the weekend.  The reason for that is that the victory conditions produced the rather odd result in our game where it seemed I was incentivized to use the chasing Paramarines not to press on the Japanese heels but rather to just defend a victory building on the far side.  This is because the Japanese win by accomplishing 2 of 3 possible things:  exit 10 points, cause 12 casualty points, or make sure there are no Good Order enemy MMC in 2 of the 3 multihex stone buildings, one of which is far off from where the fighting occurred in our game.  I'll save the juicy details for a "This Happened to Me" column in Banzai, but try to hit the highlights here.  Early in the game Rick deftly made short work of the Marines on the left side near one of the big stone buildings.  The highlight here was a DC hero followed by a banzai against the 10-2 and two squads with the HMG and an MMG.  They vaporized the DC hero with something like a 40 down 4, but lack of rate meant they were now vulnerable to a banzai attack from the other direction, and despite their high firepower and the ability to to use FPF liberally because of their high morale, they caused quite a few Japanese casualties but were ultimately goners themselves.  The Japanese then backed off a bit to hold off the chasing group of Paramarines, but then had to pay attention to the victory conditions, so they exited what they needed, and the rest made their way to the second stone hilltop building on the back right to cause the 5 more CVP they needed, and clear the second building.  I probably made a big mistake here by bringing the chasing group up to help this last building's defenders, and made a big error by firing too much with these guys, which opened the door for a Japanese win by enabling a crazy last-turn banzai charge.  Like I said I'll leave the details for the newsletter, but the Japanese sent 2 more DC heroes to their deaths, including one that was created mid-banzai and was killed only at the last moment by an FPF shot.  It came down to a final FPF that if it broke the firers would give Rick the CVP he needed, but I luckily rolled low enough to preserve the win.  My mistakes at the end should have cost me the game, but if you're going to make mistakes it's better to do it with high morale and high firepower.  The end game was even more dramatic than I've described, and thanks to Rick for an well-played game that he should have won.  I'm beginning to notice a trend here.

That win put me in the final against the formidable John Garlic.  I wasn't really keen on doing the PTO again, but the scenario list was rather limited.  For the final, any scenario is allowed but I hadn't brought any scenarios with me so it was hard to choose.  We picked "The Gin Drinker's Line" from Dispatches from the Bunker because John was interested in gaining more PTO experience, and it looked a bit more interesting than one of the ETO scenarios I was contemplating.  In this one a bunch of British (really Indian?) troops in two groups defend a small village of huts from a determined Japanese attack.  PTO terrain is not in effect in this one, although the buildings are huts.  To win, the Japanese have to score more points than the defenders, and points are scored by CVP and by hut control, and the Japanese have to get at least 5 of the 7 huts.  The defenders are in two groups, one with trenches and wire covering far from the village across a valley and facing one of the Japanese attacking groups, and the other in the village itself to the rear, awaiting the attack from the main Japanese group but also from the Japanese flanking group, which can enter on either the second or third turn; if they enter on the third turn they have the entire board edge to use and can therefore get right after the hut village from the flank and rear pretty quickly.  Looking just at the card I thought it would be hard on the Japanese, so I opted for the defense, but then once I began setting up I doubted my choice.  The cover is really flimsy in those huts, and those defenders are a bit too far away to help the trench-line defenders.  I set up a simplistic defense with the four trenches in a line and the 4 wires in front.  When John saw this, his attackers started veering to go around, although a few seemed sort of committed and therefore they continued to press the trenches on the defenders' right.  With the help of some light mortar smoke, the attackers worked their way around toward the British/Indian left, and eventually got there in good force.  When the flankers arrived as expected on turn 3, things got really desperate for the defense.  John launched 2 more DC heroes at my defenders, and one of them succeeded and blasted the MMG squad in their hut.  In the end game, finding rout paths was difficult and the casualties mounted.  Seemingly two-plus-one shots were the most common from the Japanese, and I dreaded each one because so many of them seemed to hit home and force morale checks.  The end game had the usual PTO drama, where sometimes a pin on the Japanese was a worse result for them than a break, because it prevented them from advancing into CC.  Finally when the clock ran out we tallied the points, the defenders were ahead by 1, and the Japanese had only gotten 4 of the needed 5 huts.  John said he had never done a banzai before, but he played like a PTO veteran, using DC heroes and banzais to great effect.  You could point to many events and rolls that, if they had gone the other way the game could have had a different outcome.  This was the fourth nail-biter of the five games I played.  I could easily have been 1-4 rather than tourney champion.

There were a number of interesting games that I got to watch a little bit of.  Ed arranged a mini for the players that got eliminated from the championship bracket, and it ran along the lines of Austin's Ferocity Fest, where players play the same scenario, and compete with the other players of their same side for who does the best, including for fun events not necessarily related to winning the scenario, such as getting bonus points for killing a Tiger tank, etc.  I can't remember what the first-round scenario was, but the second round was the classic "Eye of the Tiger" from the Windy City Wargamers pack.  I saw several players having a lot of fun with this one, including one of Matt Evans' tanks bouncing quite a few 75L shots off the front of one of Ralph Garringer's Pumas, which was amusing to everyone watching save possibly Matt.  

Monday, July 30, 2018

AAR: Into the Grinding Mill [J147]

Zeb Doyle

Chinese: Zeb Doyle
Japanese: Matt Schwoebel

This is a medium-to-large scenario set in 1937, with a company of first-line Chinese 3-3-7s protecting the board 12 village, which even a rusty old relic as myself knows is tricky to defend. The job is made easier by the clever use of a few overlays, an SSR that huts are NA, and a bunch of pillboxes, trenches, wire, and minefields. To round out the OB, there is the usual Chinese rag-tag assortment of all the cast-off gear of the rest of the world’s armies, including WWI-vintage dug-in Renault tanks and 75mm Krupp mountain guns. To further bolster the defense, a platoon of elite 4-4-7s and a pair of Vickers 6-Ton tanks enter on turn three.
Against this motley array, the Japanese have plenty of force to try and dig out the opposition, with 19 total squads, ranging from elite through 2nd-line, a 10-2, a .50-cal, a FT, some DCs, and six Chi-Ro tanks with a respectable 57*mm MA. They also get two pre-game Bombardments by SSR, each of which is resolved KGP-style, with a Pre-Registered hex and an FFE:1 that hits everything within two hexes of where it ends up.
These Bombardments are one of the main dilemmas in the scenario for the Chinese. Normally, it would be straightforward to heavily fortify the village, with the pillboxes converted to Bunkers and covered by wire and minefields. That sort of concentrated defense certainly can ride out a Bombardment (with the wire and mines needing to roll a 9 or less to survive, and the pillboxes a 10), but the thought of all those important fortifications being wiped out pre-game by a few bad rolls isn’t very palatable.
On the other side of the map, the biggest challenge for the Japanese is time. The scenario is only 6.5 turns long, and they must go ~12-15 hexes to clear the VC area of all non-Broken Chinese MMC. This includes crossing a stream (deep by SSR), navigating the rural environs of board 13, and then digging the defense out of all those pillboxes and trenches on board 12. It can be done, especially with three knee mortars providing smoke, but the timeline is tight and provides no margin for error..
Given this intriguing situation, Schwoebel wanted the attackers, but also the balance (I think it was 13:5 in favor of the Chinese on ROAR prior to our playing). This was not insubstantial, adding a hero and a FT to the Japanese cause, but set up a running gag for me throughout the game where I could mock Matt, so it was worth it. I really felt the Japanese already had enough in their OB to do the job, that time would be the biggest concern, and so adding even more troops would just be gilding the lily.
            As the defending Chinese, I got a little spooked by the potential destruction from the Bombardments and went with a dispersed set-up. This divided the battlefield into three areas: the board 12 church/graveyard area, which offered the best terrain for skulking and where I hoped to make my final stand; the center village, with the bulk of the buildings; and the right flank, which was fairly open but needed to be covered to prevent any Japanese thoughts of a coup de main.
            I put one pillbox/75mm gun combo in each of the three areas, with the bulk of the trenches and machine guns by the church, most of my troops in the middle, and a 3-3-7/Mtr covering a dug-in Renault on my right. The wire and mines were sprinkled around the map, mainly to deny rally points. Finally, the deep stream on board 13 does have three bridges, and I tried to cover those as best I could to force the Japanese to get their boots wet. However, given the set-up limitations and hindrances, I couldn’t find a way to mass much firepower on them.
            With that done, Matt resolved his Bombardments, which both hit the center village area and destroyed my pillbox/gun combo there, really weakening that sector.. With that done, the Japanese commenced the attack with a strong thrust up the middle, and a credible push on both flanks. Matt had noticed the mass of trenches in the church area and committed all his tanks and the 10-2/.50-cal on that side. Early action saw me boxcar out an LMG trying to place a FL on the one bridge I could credibly threaten, and then rolling snakes and cowering off the IFT on a 1-2 shot at the 10-2/.50-cal stack. That and the destroyed pillbox made a great welcome back into ASL!
            As the game progressed through the early turns, Matt was able to take advantage of my weakened center and make very good progress there. My only solace was that he found all my minefields and rolled lots of boxcars on what felt like half of his morale checks, which eroded his manpower advantage even faster than you’d expect for the Japanese.
Out in the boonies on my right flank, my Renault was a super-star, Intensive Firing at everything it could see and somehow doing lots of damage with its 37* peashooter. A 4-4-8 was so struck by its sleek lines and Parisian-styling that they failed to destroy the Immobile, no MG tank in Melee, and Matt then boxcarred another MC, forcing them to Withdraw. The Renault finally went down to a Placed DC, but not before one last IF shot took out a Chi-Ro.
            Meanwhile, in the church sector, things settled into a bit of a stalemate, with Matt’s 10-2/.50 cal dominating the area, but not being able to push forward across the open against my MMG and HMG.. Here, I made a mistake by deviating from my pre-game plan. My pillbox/75mm gun in this area was meant to counter any possible appearance of the .50-cal since it and the 10-2 are such a powerful combo (I ended up with a 1+5+7 pillbox behind a kunai hindrance six hexes away from the Japanese in jungle. After acquisition, I could roll an 8 to get a 12+0 attack, while the return fire would have been a 12+4. That’s about the best set-up the Chinese can expect against the 10-2, I think). At any rate, I got seduced by the Chi-Ro tanks and concentrated on them instead. With no AP, I had a net 5TK to do anything, and as we all know, those B11 guns only have a finite amount of shots in them. I malfunctioned it without accomplishing anything. Stupid.
             During the mid-game, I got my desperately-needed reinforcements. The two Vickers tanks went to my right flank to replace the destroyed Renault, where their 6FP CMGs could cover the open terrain. I still had a squad and gun-crew here that were just outside the victory area, and I wanted to keep them intact and threatening a late-turn dash into the village. The action here turned into an amusing game of cat-and-mouse, with Matt’s balance-given hero and FT trying to work their way through a gully to take out the tanks. This went back and forth for a few turns, but the hero ended up in a jungle hex, got hit by my 50mm MTR, and after yet another boxcarred MC, both he and FT exited without doing anything. So much for the balance!
             In the center, things weren’t looking so rosy. Matt brought his Chi-Ro tanks over to bolster his already-successful attack, and several Chinese squads died for FTR. I had hoped to send my entire platoon of elite reinforcements to the church but ended up having to commit two 4-4-7s to the main village instead. At this point, I got lucky. Matt (rightfully) didn’t want to waste any time, and so entered multiple CCs to clear out the remaining resistance. Most of these were 1:1 attacks, with the Japanese of course favored on the Ambush, but my troops were able to beat the odds by outright winning several of the combats. This huge stroke of luck didn’t come close to turning the tide in the village, but it, along with Matt's numerous boxcar MCs, really accelerated the typical Japanese manpower attrition.
             Over by the church, the 10-2/.50-cal dominated, going on several ROF tears and chewing up my troops. Even with the entry of my last two reinforcing 4-4-7s here, I had to have my gun-crew abandon the attempts at repair and move over to man the HMG instead. Going into the last few turns, it wasn’t looking good for the Chinese, but the clock was ticking loudly. Matt was still facing a timeline that was manageable but had no margin for error.
             The end-game played out with Matt preparing to stamp out the flickering resistance in all three sectors. On my right, I had high hopes that my gun-crew could get back into the VC area, but despite my two Vickers tanks, Matt was able to get troops onto the pillbox. Overcoming the wire and lack of HtH, he had his only good CC roll of the game (needed a 4) to kill my 2-2-7 in CC and eliminate the threat. I still had another squad in this area, but it would have to move into the VC area and face down at least two Japanese squads, so I wasn’t optimistic at all.
             In the center, Matt’s sour CC luck quickly returned. With his (OB-given) FT and the tanks, he was finally able to clear the village, but my Chinese managed to make it a bloody process by holding their own and giving as good as they got in every CC. That, the previous losses, and the threat from my last surviving squad on the right flank meant that there just weren’t that many Japanese left to charge the church.
            Here, Matt’s 10-2/.50-cal had really worn my troops down over the course of the game, despite my trying to maintain concealment and skulk as much as possible. This powerful combo was all set to move into my trench compound and really make things tough for me when some insignificant DR on the far side of the map triggered my sniper which took out the 10-2. Obviously, that was huge, and swung things back in my favor.
Matt sorted through the resulting chaos well, but it set him back enough that on the last turn, I thought I was in pretty good shape. I had a stack of a 9-1, concealed 8-1, 3-3-7/HMG, 2-2-7 tucked away in the far corner of the church, where they were in the VC area but out of LOS of almost all the Japanese. Thanks to the bloody CCs of the center village, Matt had only a 9-1/2-2-8/4-4-7 that could reach me.
As the Japanese stack entered the church next to my troops, they were greeted with a 20+0 attack. Sadly, I pulled a page out of Matt’s book and rolled boxcars, resulting in no effect. Elation for the Japanese, despair for the Chinese. Taking the Subsequent First Fire shot was a better roll, causing an NMC. The leader and crew passed, but the squad rolled snakes and went Berserk, losing the ability to Advance and cancelling the Japanese celebration.
Still, you never know how CC will go, especially when its HtH, and my blood pressure spiked when the 9-1 and 2-2-8 advanced in and Ambushed my troops, despite the presence of my concealed 8-1. The resulting attack was a 1:4, -2 for Ambush and being Japanese, meaning Matt need a six or less to win the game. His string of poor rolls continued however, and the Chinese managed to hang on for victory.
Thanks very much to Matt for the game. He shook off some bad dice and was tolerant of my rusty play, allowing me to treat A.2 as an optional rule. I thought the scenario itself was a ton of fun, although I’m not sure how good my set-up was. The more I think about it, the more I think I was too scared of the Bombardments. If so, it’s probably better setting up a denser and more integrated defense that allows for the pillboxes to mutually support each other. Even if the Bombardments do more damage, the Chinese are probably better served playing with most of their fortifications in great spots, rather than all their fortifications in decent spots. Again though, I’m far too rusty to draw any good conclusions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June DFW Gameday (and AARs)

Ed Beekman

Our June game day had a very specific Stalingrad theme.  

Jim C and Tracey decided  to  play S18 Breaking Bread again since  they felt they made  too many errors  last month.  Again Jim's Russians were  able  to  repulse Tracey's Germans to keep control  of  the Bread  Factory  buildings.

Ralph challenged Matt for  the Chair and they selected DASL2 Berserk!  Matt's Germans came at Ralph's Russians hard and heavy and got away with it due to the luck of the dice.  Ralph's MMG stack went Berserk and charged to their doom.  Then the tide turned as Ralph started to  whittle down the attackers and then he counterattacked, resulting in driving back and reducing the German force, leaving them no chance to get  to the Victory Building.  Ralph will  be Chairman next  month.  

We were expecting another player but real life interfered.  I had set up RB3 Bread  Factory #3 in preparation and Ralph and I  played it after his  first  game  was  complete.  There was a brief battle  for one of the Victory Buildings as Ralph first ambushed and killed a defending squad and then broke half  my  counter attack force but then  the squad was Pinned and CRd by a Booby Trap allowing me to eliminate them in a HtH ambush.  The German main force approaching the Admin block caused my HMG squad, best leader and a broken unit to go berserk.  One charge later and a quarter of my on board OB was eliminated.  Then the German leader went Berserk with a squad.  The leader quickly died but the squad cleared the second victory building, driving all my defenders to FTR death.  My reinforcements entered as the last of my units were dying or fleeing.  Three turns to go and it would take at least that long to get to the victory buildings.  My units walked into a meat grinder and were chopped up just shy of being able to reach the VC.  My last turn I had one squad locked in melee and a concealed leader surrounded by Germans on 5 hexsides.   I announced my move for the win and assault moved the concealed stack away from the Bread Factory and out of encirclement.  Ralph was confused.  He looked over the scenario and remembered I had a HIP unit.  I still controlled one of the victory buildings with the HIPsters in the upstairs location that he never moved through.  His "recon by fire" revealed the HIPpies but could only Pin the leader and my win was preserved.

Have you figured out the theme?  We played three different versions - Starter Kit, Deluxe, and Historical - of the battle for the Bread Factory just south of the Red Barricades.  The Russians won all three games.

Look forward to seeing you at Austin or next month at my place.

Friday, May 04, 2018

AAR: Conscript Corner [OS1]

Ed Beekman
Ralph and I played OS1 Conscript Counter from Objective: Schmidt.  ROAR has the Germans  favored 3:1 but the ASL Scenario  Archive has the Americans favored 2:0.  Ralph picked the Germans.  The Germans must have 2 Good Order Squad Equivalents at game end to win OR inflict 8 CVP on the Americans.  The Americans outnumber the Germans by less than 4:3 and all MMC have a 6 Morale.  All the Germans are Conscripts with an ELR of 1 but they have good leadership.  The Americans have a 3 ELR and a quarter of their troops are 2nd Line with only a single -1 Leader.  The Germans are defending stone buildings on a hillside and the Americans must cover some open ground when they enter.  

Ralph set most of his troops up front to hit the Americans as they enter and left the requisite 2 MMC at the back of the map along with a dummy stack for me to bug hunt in the end game.  I lost a squad to a low IFT DR when entering but was able to position my units to create a death trap for the Germans at the base of the hill.  My kill stack was mostly effective Disrupting the Germans.  I usually only needed an NMC on a 20 +2 attack (frequently it was a better result) with a HS then walking over to accept the surrender.  I had to be careful moving, by the end of turn 2 I was half way to the CVP cap, included losing a 1st Line squad to a Conscript HS on snake eyes which also gave back Ralph the 8-1 leader I had just captured elsewhere.   Fortunately the Americans rallied quickly although many MMC were reduced in quality to Green and 2nd Line.  In the end the American advantages in Firepower and Range doomed the Germans.  There was only 1 good order German squad and no chance to Rally another squad's worth at the end.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

DFW Gameday - And AARs Galore

The DFW ASL scene had an extraordinary game day in March.
Bob (Dutch) successfully defended  the Chair against Ralph (Germans) in G7 Bring  Up the Guns.  The Germans have to exit some wagon towed guns to win.  Ralph misjudged the range and lost some guns to low odds, long ranges shots.  He was clearing the path to exit enough guns to win when a Sniper eliminated a Wagon, giving Bob a cheap win.  Feel free to challenge Bob for the Chair next month.
Jim F. (Slovaks) played Matt (Hungarians) in O11 Short-Lived  Offensive.  Early on Matt burned one of Jim's Armored Cars in Bypass of a kill stack's building.  Jim sent one of his own kill stacks into Melee against Matt's smoked in stack.  The wreck's Blaze spread to  the building then flared into a Blaze resulting in each side losing a chunk of their OB to the fire, something I have not seen before..  Using Prisoners to boost his CVP, Jim easily reached his VP total needed to win.
Jim C. (Germans) and Tracey (Americans) continued  their  SK  journey into the finer points of Guns in S12 Over Open Sights.  Jim had to eliminate or capture all three American Guns to  win.  Jim captured and then destroyed the two 105 ART about mid game but it wasn't looking good getting to the 155 ART.  On his last turn, the crew was broken but still manning the gun.  He had to eliminate the crew to give him a chance to capture the gun in the movement phase.  He prep fired everything he but one squad, eliminating the crew on a final 8 +2 shot.  The squad moved onto the gun, surviving all Tracey's Defensive fire (4 -2 shots [?]).  Everything worked perfectly until he tried to recover the gun and rolled a 6, giving Tracey the win.
After Ralph's Sniper debacle, he challenged me to a game.  We played BFP147 The Commissar's Folly from Poland in Flames.  I got the attacking Russians and had to Capture 2 of 3 Stone/Wood buildings within 5 turns, a tough order as I had to take at least one 2 hex multi-level building.  I split my forces to attack the two flank buildings, including the 1 hex multi-level victory building.  The 1 hex building fell on Turn 2 when I was able to Smoke it and eliminate the defenders in Melee.  On the other flank, I was 2 hexes away from another victory building with concealed units but Ralph was able to strip concealment on a 4 +2 shot.  This stalled my advance.  On Turn 3 he broke every unit close to my targeted building.  I was in trouble, 2 turns to take a multihex stone/wood building and I had no one with in 3 hexes of either.  Pulling out all the stops, I changed targets to the middle victory building.  I was able to push a squad with a LMG into the wooden building between the Polish controlled victory buildings, which prevented him from moving reinforcements between them.  Squads swarmed around my target building.  It was occupied by a Polish squad and a crew with a HMG with broken units hiding upstairs.  I had a squad go Berserk which could be useful getting into the furthest hex of the building.  On the last turn, my Berserk died before it reached it target on a 16 -1 KIA.  This kept me from tying up the Polish squad and moving another unit into position to advance into the hex and forcing the elimination of the upstairs broken units for failure to rout.  I swarmed the HMG and eliminated it in Melee, but I failed to get ambush so wasn't able to infiltrate upstairs which would have probably also guaranteed victory.  Ralph had the last move and had to hold on.  He had ineffective Prep Fire then moved to be able to advance into the threatened building.  I had to eliminate all the broken units and a Good Order squad to win.  I broke the squad with 16 +3 shot but it needed to die or it would rout upstairs to maintain Control.  I hit the upstairs broken units with an 8 +2 then a 12 +2 for no effect other than encirclement.  My kill stack then hit them with a 16 +3 for a 2 MC.  The leader passed but the squads were all reduced (I was hoping for a fatal leader wound which could have wiped all units out).  I kept rate on the MMGs so hit them again with an 8 +3 which eliminated the broken MMCs but the SMC passed the 1 MC again.  I had one more rate shot but it had no effect, giving Ralph a well fought win. 
On the following day, Richard Jenulis from Seattle, was in town and Arlen graciously took up the challenge.  They played J190 Trial Run.  Arlen's Germans had a run of bad luck early on such as his MMG malfunctioning on its first shot which allowed Richard's Canadians to get across the stream.  His Shermans arrived, ran a gauntlet of fire to position the Canadians to be able to exit enough for the win.  Congratulations to Richard on his win and thanks to Arlen for upholding Texas hospitality