Sunday, January 19, 2020

Our Saturday Game - Scenario GJ079 Woodland Pursuit

Well...this AAR will be a first. This will be the first time, an AAR has been done on a Grumble Jones Scenario. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing! When I first began blogging in 2011, I really had no idea what I was doing. As I have pointed many times, my early posts were more musings than anything else. I wouldn't do AAR's until about least ones that were worth reading. So in the earliest days of the blog, sharing my scenario ideas constituted the bulk of my posts. Since the early days of Squad Leader, I have designed scenarios, including a massive (for 1982) CG of the Cherkassy Pocket. At that time, my main opponent from high school and I mapped it out with all the available boards at that time, figured out all the troop dispositions and put into Squad Leader level. We then proceeded to play every day after school. We would simply select a two board section of our pocket map and reveal the Squad Leader level forces we had there and fight it out. We probably did that for about two weeks before we tired of it. But, the desire to create scenarios was born inside of me and was something that has stayed with me over the years. And it has always been a way to feel connected to the game and the ASL experience when not playing. 

And before we get to the AAR, I do want to make it clear to all readers, that Grumble Jones Scenarios are really just about fun. Despite the love which I pour into them, they do not compare with the vast quantity of  play tested and well made scenarios available from MMP, BFP, LFT, LC, HOB and other publishers.

This scenario was inspired by another of the great Combat Series books by Osprey. I won't drone on again about how they great are...which they are of course!!

My buddy Dan is very fond of anything with Partisans and especially Partisan action on the Eastern Front. So it was his pick to play this scenario.

Dan and I have played several good Partisan scenarios. So our expectations were high that this scenario would be another great battle.

There is currently, no ROAR or ASL Archive Scenario data regarding the scenario. I am tremendously grateful for both sites and especially the ASL Archive, where I have been able to post my scenarios and the PDF versions, which are not supported by Blogger.

This scenario covers the actions of the Wehrmacht to deal with Partisans near Bol'shoe Kosrevo, Russia. Code-named "Operation spring Clean", the Wehrmacht worked to eliminate the Partisans of the 2nd Kalinin Brigade which were operating in the area. Various German security forces moved into the vast wooded areas and began encircling operations designed to gradually close in and eliminate the Partisans. The Partisans, however, were masters of their terrain and despite losses, would find ways to escape the German dragnet.

A look at the area involved in Operation Spring Clean - even today, extremely wooded country.

The victory conditions for this scenario require the Partisan Player to exit 16 or more CVP off the west board edge between hexes Q6 and Q15. The Partisans begin the scenario HIP and can move unseen until they are seen by a German unit or detected by one of the two German squads equipped with dogs. The Partisans begin the scenario under Ammo Shortage and with no machine guns. There are seven buildings on Board 7b, which the Partisans can search and remove their ammo shortage status and possibly obtain an LMG either Russian or German. The scenario is a little heavy on SSR's, which is not always a good thing, and  I certainly am guilty of driving a scenario narrative a little hard in my designs with SSR's. So my bad...a little bit of the Dungeon Master in me finds its way into my scenarios.

After rolling for sides, Dan would be the attacking Partisans trying to escape the German trap. Dan would command the men of the 2nd Kalinin Partisan Brigade. This brigade would suffer heavy losses during Operation Spring Clean.

Dan's force would consist of 20 x 3-3-7's led by a 9-2, 9-1, 8-1, 8-0 and 7-0. Additionally, the Partisans would by SSR have the ability to move quickly through the woods as each woods hex would only cost 1 MP. This would reflect the terrain knowledge inherent with the Partisans as well as the lack of any heavy equipment to weigh them down.

As the German defender, I would be tasked with stopping the escape of Dan's Partisans. I would command the men of Sicherungs Regiments 94 and 107. My overall force would consist of 2 x 5-4-8's with dogs,  14 x 4-4-7's (6 of these horse mounted) led by a 9-1, 8-1, 8-0, 7-0 and 6+1 with 4 x LMG's and a SPW 250 Halftrack for good measure. I would need the mobility to try and cover the expanse of Board 7b.

A look at the battlefield.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

“The Partisans must move to exit in this scenario.  Overcoming the German defensive line in the process.  The Partisans will form a Schwerpunkt in the southern woods on board n.  The attack across into the three-building cluster on board 7b and then to the exit area.  This attack path provides the most cover in the woods.  The Partisans will take prisoners to get more exit VP.  Hopefully the scattered German set up will allow the Partisans to defeat them in detail and get enough exit VP for the win.  The biggest limitation to attacking in woods it the limited use of MOL across woods or orchard hex sides.  Initially MOL are the only partisan support weapon.”

Game start. The Partisans set up HIP if they are in the woods. The Germans gain no Concealment on Turn 1 as they are busy making noise as they beat the woods and paths while searching for the Partisans.

I set up as per SSR on the roads and paths. I had a feeling that Dan was in the southern woods mass as it's the most logical place.

By SSR the Partisans only pay 1 MP per woods hex, so they would be able to make tracks through the woods.

I would have to move quickly to block the Partisans once I knew where they were massed.
Also by SSR, each of the 7 separate buildings contains an ammo crate. The Partisans would be able to find these and eliminate their ammo shortage condition and/or acquire an LMG. At game start the Partisans have no support weapons...only Molotovs.

As I anticipated, Dan was in the southern woods in force. A Partisan Schwerpunkt!!! Dan would move quickly to the west and freedom.

 I would move quickly as well to surround Dan's Partisans.

The black X's mark where German units had been. I was rolling very poorly (I know big surprise...) in the early stages of this game and breaking and disrupting. So I was losing squads as prisoners early and often!!

As prisoners are doubled for EVP, they were definitely worth the trouble to take.

Turn 2 - Dan's Partisans move towards the three building cluster. Dan finds a couple ammo crates and ends up with one LMG. LMG's are always valuable as each one exited at game end is worth 1 EVP.

Back in the woods, Dan would turn to give battle to my units at his rear. This would slow him down, because he couldn't afford to have me in his backfield in any strength.

The three building cluster would be the only buildings to come in play during the game. 

Close combat...the name of this game, if you love CC...then you will enjoy this scenario. My Germans would suffer badly in close combat as Dan would usually win the ambush and take me down before I could even defend myself.

The Partisans would be the masters of close combat in this game.

But...MELEE would be more beneficial to the Germans than to the Partisans. Every turn I could tie up Dan's boys in Melee was a potential game winner for me.

Turn 2 - I would move all my boys towards the southwest. Dan didn't show any desire to move to the  north, so south it would be!!

Turn 3 - Dan's Partisans hit me hard in the center. My forces collapse as the number of Partisans overwhelms me. But my defensive fire does result in some breaks, which will again slows down the Partisans.

More close was this a fun game with all the close combat. I don't usually do well, but it definitely made for an exciting game.

 The red MELEE countesr would signify more slowdowns as my Germans went down fighting.

Turn 4 - I would move to eliminate Dan's 9-1 and a broken 3-3-7 in the north. I would take no prisoners. I would also send my 6+1 and some boys to hold the exit. It was time to prepare for Dan's impending exit.

My horses definitely came in handy. 

 Turn 5 - now in the original version of this scenario Turn 5 would have been the final turn. But Dan I decided to add a turn and half for 6-1/2 turns. It quickly became apparent that 5 turns of movement was simply not enough for the Partisans. So we amended the scenario.

Dan and had bloodied each other, with the Germans losing the most squads. I was in trouble in the center. My best defender was the pond!!!

My 4-4-7 in the village area was doomed. They would go down fighting.

 As my center collapsed, I was able to fall back and set up new blocking positions.

Keeping my blocking units in front of Dan was the key.

  Dan makes his strongest moves yet to move towards the exit zone.

I moved to counter Dan's attack as best I could.

 Turn 6 - Dan manages to exit his first unit, but I manage to inflict losses and stop others.
My boys were barely hanging on.

Pins...a beautiful thing to see...not as good as breaks, but they stopped the Partisans nonetheless! 

 Dan's final Partisan group that had any chance of exiting the map.

 My final movement phase was to send all I could to the exit zone.

 I managed to position 2-1/2 squads to try and hold the exit.

The final movement phase on Turn 7 of Dan's Partisans. I would have a single 4-4-7 left to fire and they would be enough to stop enough of Dan's Partisans to secure a German victory!

Whew...the operation had been a success. The bulk of the Partisans would fail to escape. What remained of my Germans could savor the win. My thanks to Dan for an exciting night of ASL. The final outcome was in doubt up until the end. Dan would succeed in exiting about 9 of the required 16 EVP. So it was close!

And now for Dan's Post-Game Comments:

“The plan did not work.  The Germans were able to keep getting blocking units into position to delay the Partisans.   The Partisans captured 4 Germans squads and eliminated twice that in CC.  It just seemed there was always Germans keeping the Partisans from the exit.  In the last turn the prisoner guards were pinned and could not exit.  Well played by Grumble Jones!  This scenario is great fun with much movement and CC action.  This scenario has great replay value as there are several options for both sides to set up and make their moves.  My thanks to Grumble Jones for a great game!”

As I indicated earlier in the AAR, Dan and I agreed that the turns needed to be increased and we also enlarged the Partisan Exit Zone so that it would give the Partisans a better chance of exiting. In our game, Dan was forced to run through a single hex with 4 residual fire that took a toll on his boys. So it made sense to enlarge the zone. The revised scenario card is above.  It is also updated on the ASL Scenario Archive.

Today's AAR is dedicated to Coleman Quill, who passed away a week ago. Coleman and I first met during the 2017 March Madness Tournament. We played two great games and Coleman impressed me as a great gentleman and a very kind soul. When I returned to Tulsa, I already had a Facebook Friend Request waiting for me from Coleman. He would always go out of his way to say hello when I saw him at later tournaments. He was one of those great people who becomes a life long friend almost immediately. I am truly saddened to know I won't be able to see him this year and I will miss him.

Dan and I will be off next Saturday as I have a work function to celebrate a very successful 2019. We'll return on February 1st for a playing of Scenario NTX05 Victory over the Saar. 
We'll see you then.