Sunday, February 10, 2019

Our Friday Game - Scenario MM49 The Other Side of the Tracks

For our Friday Games - Dan and I returned to the 2018 March Madness "The Players Pack". And for the first time, I would have the opportunity to play one of my own scenarios. MM49 The Other Side of the Tracks is the first scenario that I designed, which has ever been printed. So, I was really looking forward to seeing how my design played out.  The March Madness Players Pack is available from this link http://kansascityasl.com/html/publications.html .

My inspiration for this scenario arose from an article in the Summer 2017 edition of WWII Quarterly magazine. I initially bought this particular copy due to its article on the fighting for Hill 112. But an article entitled: "Love" in the Vosges Mountains would capture my attention. I'm not particularly well read on the fighting in the Vosges. I have read the Lost Battalions book which covers the 442nd US Regiments action to find and relieve a trapped US Battalion. But beyond that I hadn't really read too much. The article covers the actions of Company L, 399th Infantry Regiment of the 100th Infantry Division.  The entire article is available at this link: https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/wwii/love-company-in-the-vognes-mountains/ . Well worth your time.



The action I selected for this scenario took place in Lemberg. Interestingly, the map included in the article shows that Lemberg was in the sector assigned to the 398th, but the article as well as the Love Company unit history shows that the 399th was in the Lemberg fight or at the very least...L Company was there. One picture in the article drew my attention and from it, the scenario was born.

The fight for this railroad underpass takes center stage in the scenario. In short, the men of Love Company were positioned in a draw not far from this underpass. A smoke screen was dropped by the local US Artillery battery and the Americans charged forward to get up on top of the embankment. A German counterattack through the underpass was repulsed and the Americans were able to put down a punishing fire from the embankment and then move into Lemberg. Securing Lemberg would open the door to Bitche, which would be the 100th Division's most famous battle.

This unit history by John M. Khoury is available on Amazon. The Kindle edition is currently $2.99. Again, highly recommend this resource as a great addition to any ASL library. 

After rolling for sides, I would be the Americans of Love Company. My force would consist of 14 x 6-6-6's led by a 9-2, 8-1, 8-0 and 7-0 with an MMG, DC, 2 x Baz 44's and 2 x 60 MTR's. 

For support, I would receive a smoke screen bombardment, which would come in very handy.

As the attacker, I would have to control 5 or more buildings to the east of hexrow Q. Not an entirely easy task, especially with only 5 turns to accomplish it.

So...the key for the Americans is to be moving every turn. As you will see...I forgot this important combat maxim.





As the defending Germans, Dan would command elements of the 25th Panzergrendier Division. This veteran German unit was composed mainly of Swabians and Bavarians. I attended university for a semester in Reutlingen, West Germany, which is deep in the heart of the Swabian Alb. Many of the 25th's Grenadiers were from this area. The division would be all but eliminated near Minsk during Operation Bagration. The cemeteries from Stuttgart to Reutlingen to Tuebingen confirm the loss as many of these men's names appear on large plaques in the cemeteries as the bodies remained in Russia. A consequence of the German Wehrkreis system for forming units for the Wehrmacht is that a division could find itself in a terrible situation and the result would be that the region lost every young man. It was not uncommon to see 300 names on plaques in tiny little village cemeteries. 

The 25th would be reconstituted and fight with distinction in the Vosges Campaign.

Dan's force would consist of  8 x 4-4-7's, with a 2-2-8, led by an 8-1, 8-0 and 7-0 with an MMG, 3 x LMG's, 1 x 50 MTR, a 20L AA Gun and a Flak-Wagon with a 20L AA Gun. Additionally, Dan would have three foxholes an 5 wires to fortify  his position.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Commentary:

This scenario is a nice infantry only design.  Short and sweet.  The Germans in this scenario face a big group of Americans with high firepower.  I will station the MMG with the 8-1 leader at the crossroads where it can lay a fire lane down the road and under the railroad bridge.  It can also cover the row Q road, which will have the wire.  The 8-0 and LMG in foxhole will cover the other side of the hill.  The MTR will position itself to fire on the hill also.  The 20mm AA will set up HIP in the village covering the crossroads.  So when the Americans break the 8-1 and move through the gap they are met with a nasty surprise.  Hopefully these will slow the Americans enough to keep them from taking the needed buildings. The AA truck will back up the 8-0 and if the American attack on the other side of the hill move over to support.  The 7-0 with a LMG will set up in the village in good skulk cover to have fire over the wire.  With the hill dividing the board into two sides it breaks up the German ability to have interlocking fire lanes and mutually supporting positions.  If the Americans come over all in on one side it will be tough.


 A look at my attack plan. I intended to drop my smoke bombardment right on the underpass and then move through it as quickly as possible. I would place supporting units on the north and south parts of the rail line embankment. Dan had placed a potential unit on my side of the embankment. I couldn't assume it was a dummy. It cost me some movement as I was cautious about running in the open in front of it. It did turn out to be a dummy location, but it had done exactly what Dan needed it to. Effective use of your dummy units can be a real critical aid in any game.

 The calm before the storm. Dan's 8-1 with the MMG was sitting in the crossroads foxhole with a nice fire lane right down the road. My plan of rushing through the underpass was looking a lot less appealing.

This wasn't going to be a walk in the woods for sure!

 Turn 1 - my 60 MTR's tried softening up Dan's Dummy Location with no success. Then my Arty dropped the smoke screen right on target. And I moved forward to the rail line embankment.



 I was able to reveal the dummy stack and then get my initial fire group up on the northern piece of the rail line embankment. And this revealed bad news. Dan had stretched his wire across this portion of the front. Drats!

Dan's boys were dug in and waiting.


 Turn 2- My smoke had begun to dissipate...so it was time to move. My fire group on the northern shoulder had successfully broken the Germans in R2, but another 4-4-7 had taken their place. As my other boys began to cover over the embankment, Dan's MG-42's began their canvas ripping staccato that broke a few of my 6 morale troops. My main group had successfully gone up the middle.


Dan's 8-1 was keeping an eye on my boys as we came through the underpass.

 At this point, I was pretty happy with things. I felt like I was in good positions going into Turn 3.



 I had my north and south fire groups in place and my center assault group was where I wanted it. Things looked pretty good.



 Dan's 20L AA guns would reveal themselves and I would take some tough hits as a result. I had managed to break Dan's 8-1 and force him to rout away, but then the 20L AA Gun revealed itself and messed up plans to exploit the opportunity.

Dan had positioned it very well. It would control the road.


In better news!! My boys would manage to take out Dan's 20L Flak Wagon! Woohooo!!!


 I tried pushing ahead despite the 20L fire, which had caught me off guard. Both Dan and I had broken squads, but at this point in the game, I still felt pretty good that I was about to push through the German defenses.


I had foolishly underestimated the resolve of Dan's 4-4-7. The grenadiers of the 25th were going to be very stubborn Swabians.

 Oh yeah...the dice would be heard from in this game. Dan had managed a couple of nice snake eyes, one of which KIA'd  a 6-6-6, but I would do the most damage to myself. A normal morale check on my 9-2...oh look BOXCARS! He would wound and guess what...he would not rally for the rest of the game. It was the decisive blow to my efforts in the center. Dan's LMG's and MMG were lacing the area with fire and I was collapsing.



 Going into Turn 4, Dan's line was completely intact. I had knocked out his flak-wagon and KIA'd h is 20L AA gun crew, but his stubborn grenadiers were not yielding any ground. Meanwhile my boys were firing without any effect from the rail line embankment. I had made a terrible mistake of not moving those men up close. Americans are tough to stop on the advance. A cardinal ASL error...keep moving...and I didn't.

"Hey...are you fellas actually hitting anything...cause it sure doesn't seem like it..."

 Meanwhile...my 9-2 refused to rally. His recent brush was death had left him quite distraught and my boys on the hill were being kept DM by persistent German fire.

"Sarge...things are not looking so good down there. We haven't event gotten past that German wire and we only have one movement turn left."

 I made one last attempt to move forward...but got knocked back. I had to face reality. I had not moved fast enough and the clock had run out on me. Too much Prep Fire from the embankment had stalled my attack for no result. Dan's wire was perfectly placed and slowed me down in the village. My 9-2's failure to rally left all his brokies unavailable to support my center attack. Dan's flanks were too well protected, so I could not find an opening to get around him. In short...it was time for me to offer the concession...

Actually no...I just say...I concede and move on...a speech seems a bit much for a 5 turn scenario...but perhaps for a CG...that might require a speech!!!



A last look a the battlefield. Dan had schooled me on my own scenario!!! But honestly, I thought his defense was really well done. So congrats Dan on a nice victory. German losses were slight and the initial German line was pretty much still intact at game end. I struggled to get close to Dan boys, which is where the Americans can be very dangerous. My failure to close the gap contributed greatly to my loss. 














Dan's grenadiers had won the day and could relax and enjoy some hot Maultaschen.



And now for Dan's Post-Game Commentary:

The Americans came across on a broad front and the Germans managed to hold...barely.  The key moment was a morale check for the American 9-2 where they rolled a 12.  The 9-2 wounded and failed to rally for the next movement.  The Americans lost movement and some very hard hitting fire base leadership.  With this loss of time the American attack ran out of steam and could not take the buildings.  This is a fun scenario and a good design.  It usually has a clear winner at the end.  A good scenario to play with your friends.



That's a wrap on this week's game. Dan and I will be back next Saturday for a playing of ASL Scenario 133 Block Busting in Bokruisk. 

See ya then!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Grumble Jones February Scenario GJ067 - "Oh It's only those Old Things!"

This month's scenario was inspired by my recent reading of Max Hastings' excellent book, Armageddon. Armageddon details the final battles to defeat Germany during World War II. Generally, a book like this does not provide enough tactical detail to result in a scenario. But Hastings does give some rather detailed descriptions of various combat encounters on both the Western and Eastern Fronts. In fact, the amount of detail was one of the things that made this book such a great read. 

The scenario sprang from page 449 as Hastings describes a Soviet Lt. Krulik's desperate defense during the German Operation Spring Awakening in March of 1945. Krulik's motorized infantry have no tanks and almost nothing in the way of anti-tank weapons. And yet, they are in the path of the German 23rd Panzer Division (speculation on my part). But then a Soviet 85L AT Gun just happens along. The leader of this miracle weapon is a highly decorate veteran who agrees to help Krulik hold the line. 

Once the gun is properly situated, the Soviets see the Germans beginning to advance towards them led by three Panzer Mark IV's. The decorated Soviet veteran simply laughs and shouts "Oh, it's only those old things!!".

And with that a scenario is born! Now, unit detail was absent regarding the German force. So a little side research of my own led me to choose a battle fought in the 23rd Panzer Division's sector and which is noted in their history printed by Stackpole Books.  Since, Krulik's recollection made no mention of Waffen SS troops, it seemed logical that he faced the 23rd Panzer Division.  

Now the map above does show the relative position of Krulik's 6th Guards Tank Army, but more granular detail is of course absent. So...this scenario, while based on actual event is a composite of that event and the fighting around Sar Egres, Hungary which included units of the 23rd Panzer Division. I selected Board 11a from the new Winter Offensive Pack for this scenario. Hopefully, most of you will have it or will soon have it. It's an awesome board!

I added an SSR to give the Soviet 85L a rate of fire of 3 and a successful repair on a 1 or a 2 to reflect the high quality of the veteran led crew. And it's the only significant anti-tank asset the Soviet Player has at his/her disposal. Of course, a successfully rate of fire tear and all three German tanks could go down like dominoes. The Soviets also get a few mines and up to 3 Panzerfausts. So all in all the Soviet force has just enough to hold off an armored assault.

...or not as the case may be!!!

The German force reflects the weakness of the Wehrmacht at that time with most of the Germany infantry showing up as 4-4-7's and with a '3' ELR.  Couple those facts with trying to cross a large swath of open ground and the Soviet defense looks pretty strong.

As always, with these "for fun only" I strive to capture the flavor of the event described and hope the fleas are few and far between! 



As always these monthly "Basement Quality" Scenarios are offered for fun only and as a thank you to the readers of this blog.

Remember to open pictures in a new window in order to maximize the size. 

And as always, the PDF's for these scenarios can be downloaded from The ASL Scenario Archive 

(just search on Grumble Jones).

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Our Saturday Game - Another Double-Header with FE16 Where the Bullet Meets the Bone and GJ064 Snap Freeze

Once again, a Saturday has come and gone and Dan Best and I continued our ongoing weekly game of ASL. Hard to believe we are into our 3rd Year now of gaming by Cardboard via SKYPE. I must say that it has been an incredible ride and one I hope continues for as long as I can roll dice and read the IIFT. Here in Western Illinois...old Man Winter finally loosened his death grip on us and the snow, that has covered the ground since January 10th...is finally disappearing. This past week was one of the coldest I have ever lived through. Let's hope that the worst of winter is now behind us.


Of course one of the great things about a hard winter along the Mississippi River is that it brings the Eagles to the local Lock and  Dam where the ice is broken up and fishing is plentiful for the many Eagles lining the banks of the river.
















As for our Saturday game, Dan Best and I selected Scenario FE 16 "Where the Bullet Meets the Bone" by Fanatic Enterprises (scenario designed by Paul Kenny).  http://fanaticenterprises.tripod.com/ is where you can find more excellent scenarios and scenario packs from Fanatic Enterprises. 

Where the Bullet Meets the Bone takes place in the war-torn Yugoslavia of November 1941. The battle takes place in Lastra, Herzegovina. In this scenario, the Lastra Garrison, made up of Italian Occupation forces, find itself under attack from Tito's Partisans, who have two captured Italian tankettes in their attack force. Now, while Dan is a huge fan of Partisan based scenario...I'm a little bit less so. For me, it can be painful to watch 3-4-7's and 3-3-7's battling it out in +2 terrain...and especially when Partisans can't make fire groups, etc.  And this night's scenario would bear out some of my worst fears about these kinds of fights.



The scenario takes place on board 48, which is somewhat unique by the way it's roads neatly bisect the map and central village. I remember one of Mark Pitcavage's scenarios from his excellent, Few Returned Action Pack takes place on this map. I still have bad memories of the beating I took then on this very map. Unfortunately for me, history would repeat. ROAR has this scenario with 14 Italian victories and 10 Partisan victories. The ASL Archive has it with 1 Italian and 1 Partisan win.  

After rolling for sides, Dan would be the defending Italians. This would be one of the few times, that I was actually jealous of my opponent for having Italians!!

The Italian Lastra Garrison under Dan's command would consist of 4 x 3-4-7's, 7 x 3-4-6's, led by an 8-0 and 7-0 with an MMG, LMG and 20L ATR for support. Additionally, Dan would have two Lancia 1Z Armored Cars. These would be extremely valuable assets as the game progressed.







As the attacking Partisans, I would command 3 x 5-2-7's, and 9 x 3-3-7's led by an 8-1 and 7-0 with 3 x LMG's, 2 x DC's and 2 x captured Italian L3/35 Tankettes. My tankette crews would be inexperienced and add +1 to all their to hit rolls...oh joy...

Now after our setup gak of last week, Dan and I were a bit sensitive about not gakking something in this week's game. Of course we did anyway...cause that's how we roll.

So here is where you may or may not recognize a gakking moment. My Italian tankettes are radioless, which means they would have to move in Platoon Movement. But as they were captured and my crews were inexperienced, I just totally forgot that and you will see that I brought in separately. Now, they were both in motion at the start, so now roll was necessary for them to separate and once they stopped, they never again started or attempted to move. So Dan and I will invoke rule: A2-Errors, which basically states what we all know about ASL...is that with soooo many rules, you will make mistakes (some more forgivable than others)...but you will make them. So we ask our readers for forbearance with this one error in today's AAR.



And now for Dan's Pre-Game Commentary:

The Italians need to defend two things in this game.  The buildings and the route paths.  My plan is to put the 8-0 and MMG on the north east flank.  The 7-0 and LMG on the southwest flank guarding the gully.  The ATR will be in the middle all armed by 3-4-7 squads.  The last 3-4-7 squad will guard the southern flank on the east side.  The 3-4-6 squads will be spaced out guarding building with a defense in depth.  The armored cars are the counterattack force.  They will start concealed in the south west corner and move to attack any weak sector.  The armored cars are vulnerable to the MGs and the DCs will get a kill as long as they are placed anywhere on the tank.  All forces will route to the middle of the board.  And hopefully rally.


Ok...the victory conditions for this scenario require the Partisans to accumulate 31 VP by game end. Each building controlled at game end would also be worth 1 VP. So I decided to go after real-estate with five separate attack groups. As noted earlier, I had the tankettes enter separately. I would fail to appreciate the quality of Dan's armored cars with their Machine Guns and didn't factor them into my thinking. Big error on my part.



With 8 factor MMG to the front and a 4 factor MMG to the rear, this armored car was pretty darn tough.

Boy did I wish I had an ATR!!!
My groups made some progress, except in the center, where I was foolish early on. I had one 5-2-7 with a DC charge the nearest occupied house to set the DC. Yep...I paid it for it.

In his part of Turn 1, Dan went on the attack...why not...my forces were widely dispersed and had gotten into trouble early. The only success for me was breaking Dan's 8-0 with the MMG. My little tankette got a good hit with his machine gun. On the bad side for me, Dan sent both armored cars to hurt me...and hurt me they would.

 Dan also sent a squad to take out my center tankette in close combat. 

 Dan's 3-4-6 would pass its PAATC...REALLY...!?! Are you kidding me...!?! Yep, they not only passed their PAATC but took me out as burning wreck.

Oh...the shame...


In the next turn, I rolled snake eyes on the wind change and suddenly we had a nice breeze blowing some smoke around.

 In the next turn, I moved ahead as best I could, but Dan's ATR would take out my second tankette.


Goodbye little tankettes...I hardly got to know you...


 Dan's armored cars were doing a great job of controlling the center of the village and the road.

 Dan also moved his boys towards the center to add weight to his defense. A few of his squads had broken and needed support.



I tried for another DC run, but waited and tossed the DC. Success!! My boys survived the blast and the Italians were broken. But as Dan would later point out...the DC's were all I really had to take down the armored cars. I was taking the odd building here and there, but only had a third of the VP I would need to win the game. 

 My boys in the gully had done well and were ready to make their move in that part of the village.



As the game passed the half-way mark things were looking vey pro-Italian. Dan's armored cars had me boxed in and I wasn't feeling up to challenging their 8 factor machine guns with any unsafe moves. 

I would emerge from the gully and manage to break the unit in front of me. My progress in the center and in the east were pretty much checked by Italians in good positions. I just lacked the firepower punch to evict them.

 Dan had a nice center position which allowed  him to easily respond to any of my moves.



As my gully force began to threaten the Italian positions to the southwest, Dan's armored cars moved to stop me.



A last look as time ran out on me. I never managed to inflict any real damage on Dan's forces. He would only lose a single half-squad. I had taken several buildings, but by game end, I had only accumulated about 12 VP's out of the 31 needed. It's fair to say that my attack served to dilute my already weak firepower. A more concentrated attack with both tankettes in the same attack with the total weight of my infantry would probably have allowed me a great opportunity to win. My strategy of focusing on building and pushing towards the center from three sides required more men than I had. Dan's central position and armored cars allowed him to concentrate his force to stop each of my attacks. So congrats to Dan on a nice victory. It's not easy to win with low morale troops, but he did with style!


Dan's boys had won the day!




And now for Dan's Post-Game Commentary:

The plan worked for the most part.  Highlight was passing a PAATC and killing a Partisan tank in CC.  The other Partisan tank fell to the ATR and could be destroyed to avoid capture.  The armored cars attacked twice and both were successful at breaking the partisans.  Game ended with only one Italian HS as CVP and 10 buildings.  Although three Italian squads had "scriptified" by ELR and the HS was also a conscript. The scenario is a big contest between weak troops.  Fun to play and falls to the strength of the Fanatic Enterprise scenarios...esoteric actions.  







And now for our second featured game of the evening. We finished Where the Bullet Meets the Bone early and so decided we had enough time for something else that would play quick. In keeping with the bone chilling week we just had, Dan and I decided to play GJ064 Snap Freeze. Snap Freeze is "for fun only" scenario that was featured here on Grumble Jones in November 2018. 




































Snap Freeze is a hypothetical scenario taking place in 1942 Lapland as the Russians and Finns battle it out in the "Continuation War". The primary idea of the scenario is based on stories, which emerged from the Eastern Front, where soldiers would come across enemy troops frozen in place. So this scenario has extreme winter conditions where it is so cold that at the beginning of each Rally Phase, all MMC's and SMC's not in a building must take a Frost Task Check. Failing the Task Check results in the unit ELR'ing. Any unit unable to ELR is eliminated...frozen by the snap freeze!  

The scenario utilizes the Hollis Map, which is part of the Kansas City ASL Clubs 2017 March Madness Pack "Partisans".  This is excellent scenario pack if you don't already own it and the Hollis Map is a fun little map to play a fast game of ASL.









Now the map has 7 buildings on it...but for this scenario, these are not buildings, but instead hunting cabins deep in the Finnish woods. 5 of these cabins can only hold 1 squad and no more. One can hold 2 squads and one can hold 3 squads. The objective of this scenario is to see how many of your squads can make it into a cabin and escape the deathly cold that is killing everyone else around you. Both sides enter on the east edge in SSR designated zones. Prior to play Dan and I rolled to see who would go first. Dan would be the Finns and I would be the Russians. Dan won the roll and would get to move first. But movement would be painfully difficult in the eastern, wood covered hills...especially with deep snow and heavy winds. The heavy winds would produce a lot of drifts throughout the scenario.



Yes it was and both Dan and I would watch a bunch of our boys freeze to death before this scenario was over.


 Dan's Finns would move first and find the going very difficult. The white numbers beside the cabins indicate the number of squads each cabin can accommodate. Winter's icy arms would house the rest.



 Turn 1 - Dan's boys discovered how tough it was to move in the double crest lines in deep snow.



 My boys had an easier journey to the frozen stream, and made good progress.



Turn 2 is the first turn that both sides have to begin rolling each and every Rally Phase for the Frost Task Check. The Snap Freeze was going after us both!!!


 Golden Circles indicate units that have made it into the safety of a nice warm cabin.



 With too few rooms at the inn for everyone to survive, both Dan and I realized that we would have to eliminate some of our opponent's troops if we could. So Dan sent two half-squads to mess with me. I managed to KIA one in the frozen stream, but another came at me in Close Combat.

Dan's Finns meant business!

 Dan's 8+1 was evicted from the G6 cabin in favor of his 9-0. The 8+1 had been an 8-0, but the cold had already reduced  him. He would eventually freeze to death.

 Dan had made good progress on Turn 2, but had several squads ELR due to the cold. 



 My boys moved into the open and headed for cabins. Dan's boys were waiting for me and opened up.



 I would successfully get into two of the cabins. But several of 6-2-8's had ELR'd to 5-2-7's. They were slowly freezing to death. Time was running out!!!



 The D8 cabin was the only one that was in reach of both sides. It could hold two squads. I could only send one squad into Close Combat, because any more than two squads would over stack the hex. So it was a man to man fight.



 Dan and I would both roll too  high and so would be locked in Melee. Everyone else was now in a cabin and no one was going outside. Death awaited anyone still outside...my last 5-2-7 could only hope for the Melee to end successfully...or else freeze to death.



 Well...my 5-2-7 decided to fire into the Melee and broke both squads, who then both had to exit. But my 5-2-7 would ELR to a 4-2-6 due to the cold. They had managed to save themselves...just barely!!



 Dan's broken Finns were doomed. 



Game end...the bitter, deathly cold had claimed many lives on both sides. My Russians would have one more squad survive than the Russians. Both sides would hunker down in their cabins and embrace the life giving warmth...while frozen death walked silently outside the glow of the fireplaces. Dan and I both enjoyed this scenario. It was something different and challenged us both to find a way to save our boys.


My thanks as always to Dan for two great games!

Thanks for following the "Our Saturday Game" Series. I appreciate you spending your valuable time at Grumble Jones!



Dan and I will be back on Friday (work event for me on Saturday) for a playing of MM 49 The Other Side of the Tracks.

See you then!