After nearly six weeks without some serious ASL action...Dan Best and I were once again battling it out over SKYPE. Saturdays had meaning once more!!! The past six weeks were certainly challenging as Dan contributed to relief efforts from Hurricane Florence, and I worked through some significant work challenges related to tariffs. Not quite on par with Dan's efforts, but work nonetheless. And of course, I'd like to take a moment to thank Dan and all the folks at FEMA for their hard work over the past two months.
Now for our Saturday game, Dan selected ASL Scenario 32 (the updated AOO version) Subterranean Quarry. And let me be totally honest...I've been avoiding this scenario since I first picked up Partisans in the '90's. Yep...I never wanted to play this one. And my original group of players in St. Louis were of a similar mind. Yes, we were lazy and had no interest in what appeared to be a challenging scenario to setup. So, ASL Scenario 32 languished...unplayed and unloved in my Scenario binder...until this Saturday. One of the great decisions, which Dan and I agreed to early on, was that we will play any scenario...night, beach landing, airborne drop, OBA, and even subterranean tunnels.
Prior to playing the scenario, I did some research on the ASL Archive. And it helped me to visualize the maps much better than I would have done on my own. In fact the Archive has two play aid images that got me on the right track.
I'm a huge fan of the ASL Archive site and consider it the best ASL related site of them all. So make sure you check it out, if you don't already.
As always, we rolled for sides and Dan would be the Partisans trying to hold out in the subterranean quarry near Kerch in the Crimea. Dan had played this scenario on numerous occasions and was familiar with both sides. The Kansas City ASL Club also uses this very scenario as the initiation scenario for new members to the club. Since, I had not played it yet...I was overdue for my initiation.
Dan had to roll on a table to determine what his Partisan force would be. Dan rolled a '1' and would have 8 x 3-3-7's, 6 x 5-2-7's, 4 x LMG's, 14 "?"'s led by an 8-1, 8-0 and 7-0. A fairly good force for defending the dark tunnels below.
As the Romanians, I would be the scenario attacker. I would be tasked with eliminating every '?" counter and actual Partisan unit from the tunnels in order to win. Even a single '?' or broken Partisan squad at game end would give the Partisans the victory.
To accomplish the tunnel clearing, I would have 20 x 5-4-8's (German) with 6 x LMG's, 4 x Flamethrowers led by a 9-1, 8-1, and 2 x 8-0's. A very nice force indeed.
Historically, this scenario depicts the actions of Romanian forces involved in eliminating troublesome Partisans that were operating near Kerch in the Axis Rear. The Germans were desperate to stop the Soviets from retaking the Crimean Peninsula and the actions of the Partisans in the rear were a serious distraction.
Hidden in the tunnels of a nearby quarry, the Partisans were able to operate from this base with some security. The Romanians dispatched to enter the tunnels and eliminate the Partisans were initially rebuffed and forced from the quarry. After efforts to seal off the entrances to the quarry failed, a second attempt was made with more highly skilled Romanian troops, who were also better equipped to clear the tunnels. But, this effort would ultimately fail as well, when the Partisans managed to escape and secrete themselves away in yet another system of quarry tunnels.
From the ROAR and Archive stats, this scenario does appear to be Pro-Romanian. The ASL Archive shows 12 Romanian wins to 1 Partisan. ROAR shows 35 Romanian wins to 15 Partisan. So going into this scenario, it would appear that I would have the edge as the Romanians.
With all the tunnels in this scenario, I was immediately reminded of my days playing D&D. It's been a long time (2010) since I played my most recent game of Dungeons and Dragons. Like many ASL players, I was also in the first wave of D&D'rs. I started playing in 1978...back in the day when the rules were in a white box, which contained three white paper bound books. And I can still remember when the Hill Giant module came out and for months, we played a multitude of games based around it. Ahhh...the good ol' days when D&D was pure!!! My current campaign world has been in play since 1984 and was the third world I had created. My St. Louis group of ASL Players grew out of my D&D group. In fact, D&D was their primary game of choice and I was their DM (still am). It was at my urging, that they embraced ASL. ASL is unique in board wargaming because of its single man counters and story narrative that plays out during the game. D&D's who would never touch Panzerblitz or Midway or Luftwaffe, would readily embrace ASL. I suspect that other gamers will tell similar stories.
And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:
In the Kansas City ASL Club ASL 32 Subterranean Quarry is the initiation scenario for the club. It is a good scenario for making the jump from ASLSK to full ASL. It introduces concealment and ambush but does not have snipers or much use of fire lanes. The new club member can challenge any club member but must be the attacking Romanians. The scenario is unbalanced in the old version in favor of the Romanians. So even if the new player is not experienced they still can win with the Romanians.
The Partisans must use the two advantages they have to delay the Romanians. Their advantages are concealment and being stealthy when good order. The Partisans get to block two passages and can make a defensive zone to retreat to and hide in to limit the amount of Romanians that can attack in a given turn. This will delay the Romanians to keep them from eliminating all the Partisans. The Partisans get a variable order of battle and on the table I rolled a 1. I got eight 3-3-7 squads and six 5-2-7 squads with 4 LMG and 14 concealment counters. I created my defensive zone around hex row L. I disbursed most fake concealment units outside the defensive zone with only two squads outside the zone. I gave the 5-2-7 squads the LMG and put the leader inside the zone so route to a leader was possible for broken units. This should limit the Romanian superior firepower and make them slug along hex row L and hopefully run out of time to clear all partisans from the board.
With that...it was time to enter the subterranean quarry...
In order to better play this scenario, I created my own game aid showing the roads from Board 1 as tunnels. This was a HUGE help to me in visualizing and really enjoying this scenario. The lines show the correlating tunnel entrances from Board 4 to Board 1.
By SSR, Dan and I would set up simultaneously, which is super easy when playing over SKYPE. I would send my troops down all five entrances with the plan to move to the center while clearing out all the outer tunnels.
My boys prepare to head into the quarry tunnels.
I dropped down into the tunnels and moved to bump as many '?' counters are possible. In this way, I was able to quickly eliminate some of the dummys in the tunnels. In the east approach, I would hit a very real Partisan unit led by the Partisan 8-1. They would shatter my force and force me to rout.
5-2-7 with an LMG at point-blank range is a nasty 14 firepower (IIFT yeah baby!!!). 12 for those of you who are more memory centered for your fire table.
I moved into close combat on every occasion, but would not fare overly well in the beginning of this scenario. Dan's Partisan were stealthy and with an 8-1 leader would get the ambush and take me down.
The situation after my part of Turn 1. I had managed to reveal one of the tunnel blocks and would have to find another path towards the center.
Dan's boys would not sit and wait for me in the dark tunnels, They would attack and successfully force my boys back to the surface at the east end.
The Partisan 8-1 would bedevil me all the way to the end of the scenario.
The Partisan 8-1 would force my boys back to the surface and they head south to confront my boys moving from that direction.
The tunnels were proving to be a daunting environment.
By the end of Turn 2, I had located the second tunnel block and therefore also found the Partisan redoubt. I would get the better of the close combats as I finished clearing up the exterior tunnels.
My 8-1 had been forced to return to the surface, but he would battle harden to a 9-1 later on and give a good account of himself by game end.
After the earlier bloody nose that Dan had given me in Turn 1, I moved a bit more cautiously and worked hard to keep my concealment intact. Units in the tunnels could only fire at adjacent hexes and then only if the LOS moved from tunnel dot to tunnel dot. All of the fighting would be pointblank and deadly. I had to be careful not to incur 27 CVP.
By the time we headed into the middle turns, all of the tunnels outside of the Partisan redoubt had been successfully cleared. Now, I just had to push forward into the dark tunnels and hope to do more damage to the Partisans than they did to me!
The tunnels lead on towards the hiding place of the Partisans!
My flamethrowers would be hugely important in helping me push ahead one hex at a time. I would be down to only one functioning flamethrower at game end, but they had done their job.
The black arrows show the only way forward. I had Dan's Partisans cornered, but I could only approach them one hex a time. Dan would punch me hard with each step my boys took forward in the tunnels.
My forces were in two main groups and bunched up terribly in the narrow tunnels. Moving would be difficult for both broken units and good order units trying to move up to the fighting.
X's mark the successful opening of a way forward. I had to eliminate and/or rout the Partisans in order to keep moving forward. I would on one occasion use Infantry overrun against a Partisan officer. It was a desperate move, but with time running out...it had to be made.
The battle continued to go in favor of the Romanians. I was winning the Close Combats despite the breaking and ELR'ing of many of my squads.
Soon, the Partisans were being slowly pushed back into the recesses of their redoubt.
The slugging match continued. Each turn, I tried to batter my way forward.
I would manage to get my forces ahead one hex at a time despite determined Partisan resistance.
A critical close combat.
It would end in Melee, which was good for my boys.
Both Dan and I would fire into the melee and clear the hex.
I continued to move forward and engage in yet another close combat in the dark quarry tunnels.
Yet another Melee result.
And one again, Dan and I would both fire into and clear the Melee of all participants.
Dan's remaining Partisans checked the tunnel maps...there was no escaping...
And finally on my final move, I put my boys into the intersection hex. I would have to survive all Partisan Fire in their part of Turn 8 and then eliminate them in my defensive fire or lose the game.
The final tunnels had been found.
I would survive the Partisan fire and then eliminate the Partisans in both adjoining hexes. The final roll for eliminating the northernmost unit was a Snake eyes on 32/16 for unconcealed and concealed units. Everyone died and it was game over...a Romanian victory at the very last possible moment.
My boys had done it.
Well everything went as expected. However, Scott was able to clear the board just in time. Scott did a great job attacking down all the entrances simultaneously and eliminating the dummy stacks quickly. He also found the blocked hexes and quickly constricted on the defensive zone. I was able to inflict 9 CVP and ELR reduce many squads. But Scott pressed on and cleared the board in the last defensive fire phase and eliminated the last Partisans unit in Route. Good solid play and deliberate grinding attack by Scott won the day. Another great game.
A truly hard fought and enjoyable game of ASL. Dan and I had gone toe to toe in the dark tunnels of the subterranean quarry and luck was on the side of my Romanians. I'm glad we played this scenario, but I'm not sure that I would want to play again. I really do prefer the open Russian steppes to the confined, claustrophobic spaces of the underworld!!
My thanks as always to Dan for a great night of ASL. So glad, my opponent is back in the saddle. Looking forward to next week's game already.
Dan and I will be back next Saturday for a playing of ASL Scenario J118 Elephants Unleashed!!!
See you then!