The Few Returned Action Pack is one of the more focused produced by MMP. It does a great job of recreating the hardships faced by the Italians on the Eastern Front. I tried to play every one of the scenarios straight through...but stopped at AP20. I was just exhausted from trying to win with the Italians. But here at the end of 2014, I found myself once again playing the Italians on the frozen edges of the Don River.
Big Kansas had selected AP21 Red Don. I drew the Italians for the second time in a row and set about creating a defense to keep the Russians from crossing the frozen Don River and securing the high ground on Board 18. With 4 LMG's, a HMG, 3 mortars, 8 trenches, 8 wire and 32 factors of mines, I was well equipped to hold the river bank against the 20 Russian 4-4-7's.
It had been a while since I played with wire, but I set it up to block both flanks and hopefully push the Russian assault towards the middle and the killing zone prepared for my mortars and HMG.
I did some reading on the Gamesquad Forum about AP21 and one of the suggestions was to place the wire and mines right on the ice and let the Russians know the setup. Presumably the thinking would be that it would perhaps force the Russians to attack a particular area.
After setting up, I placed the HMG, 8-1 and 7-0 with the Radio right on Q10, which controlled the river in both directions. Naturally, they would also be the primary target of the initial Russian Prep Fire. And indeed they were broken by the 14 factor firepower that was directed at them.
Big Kansas' kill stack quickly put down my kill stack...but he rolled successive "3's" which activated my sniper with dire consquences.
Having survived a stray round from the Russian machine guns...my erstwhile sniper cracked off two game changing shots.
In the time it took to throw the bolt...the Russian 9-2 and 8-0 were both KIA'd by the Italian Sniper. Their accompanying squads were broken and pinned. The Russian HMG would remain silent for the remainder of the battle.
Turn 1 was not even half-way over and the Russian leadership had been reduced by 50%. This would have a critical impact on the Russian moves for Turn 2.
The Russian fire had been effective. Pinned and DM'd Italians left my right flank extremely vulnerable.
My Italians returned fire and were very successful throughout each of my fire phases. My rolls were uncharacteristically good and confounded the Russian assault.
On Turn 2, the Russians went for all the marbles. Big Kansas had initially planned to advance more slowly, but with the loss of the officers and his fire support kill stack, he decided to move ahead, while my troops were still broken. So a human wave assault formed and headed straight for my right flank.
But wait...a critical mistake had occurred in the previous Russian Defensive Fire. My 8-1 Kill Stack had not been fired on...so even though they were broken...they were not DM'd. So at the Turn 2 Rally Phase...they re-entered the fight and would devastate the Russians as they surged across the ice in my Defensive Fire. They had simply been forgotten as they sat quietly under their Trench counter.
The Italian Defensive fire succeeds in pinning squads on the wire and DM'ing the entire Human Wave Assault. The Russians fall back and the game is over. Faced with only one good order officer and over half of the Russian squads DM'd...the Russians concede as there appears no way to achieve the Russian victory conditions.
The board at game end. The Russian assault is turned back...but in retrospect...the crippling effects of the Italian Sniper fire saved the Italian effort. Had the Russian kill stack remained intact, it would probably have eliminated the remaining Italian resistance on the Right Flank and opened the door to the hill hexes on Board 18. So never underestimate the role of the Sniper in ASL.
In November 2006, I spent 2 weeks working with one of my Suppliers in Foligno, Italy. Foligno is located in Umbria...which is a spectacular part of Italy.
I was fortunate enough to stay at the wonderful Villa Zuccari (http://www.villazuccari.com/en/). Highly recommend it...should you travel to Umbria.
The Villa is located in the small village of San Luca. I spent a Saturday wandering around.
While wandering around...I came across this wreath on the side of the church. This wreath was a memorial to an Italian Captain who was one of the many who did not return from the horrors of the Russian Front.
I was struck by the beauty of Umbria as I walked along the country roads.
And I was struck by the sadness and tragedy of war that had touched even this small Italian village.