Friday's game brought the conclusion of OA22 "After the Disaster" as we finished Turns 4, 5 and half of 6. Coming into the Russian Phase of Turn 4, the Germans had suffered 21 CVP and were dangerously close to the 39 CVP cap, which would mean immediate victory for Big Kansas' Soviets.
As I usually do, I had spent my morning commutes thinking of what chance I had of eliminating both Russian 122L Artys and capturing the two farmhouse hexes. I will be honest...I felt that I had no chance. Given the CVP I had already suffered, I was convinced that defeat would be may fate.
But ASL is a fickle mistress and this game would be no different as she dangled victory before my eyes...tempting me to give my all in one last desperate lunge for victory...
She had me at maybe...
I picked up my wooden sword...er my dice and determined to have a last go at Big Kansas and his powerful Russians!
As I awaited the Russian moves of Turn 4, I was still not in control of any of the 4 objectives. And in the distance I could hear the approaching Joe Stalin II's...
Big Kansas' Russians were confident. They knew that they only needed 18 CVP for the win.
In the center, I struggled hard to eliminate a single 4-2-6 in Melee. It would take 2 full Melees and the loss of a 1/2 squad before that single 4-2-6 went down.
On a personal note...it does get old struggling in Melees as often as I do.
Back again to the action!!! The 1st of the Russian 122L Arty's continued to be a thorn in my side. I would go on to lose 2 x Stugs, a Panther, a Half-Track and ultimately end the game locked in melee with the crew. Heroes of the Soviet Union does not do justice to their efforts and success in this game. They were truly the key unit on either side.
One of the bad moments in the Russian Phase of Turn 4 occurred in the Rally Phase. Big Kansas' shocked Joe Stalin II in the NE managed to unshock...but my shocked Panther would go to unconfirmed KIA and then be eliminated. By the end of Turn 4 I was staring at 32 CVP...personal ELR dropped accordingly...
As Turn 5 began...I found myself straining to see the sequence of movements which I would have to put in place to avoid losses and achieve objectives.
Paralysis Analysis set in momentarily...
The movement of my Germans in Turn 5 would do justice to Pete Shelling's Scenario and the coordination of my armor and infantry came together as if I had planned it...
"That was beautiful...what'd I do...!?!"
My Germans executed nearly perfectly and moved into position to threaten the farmhouse and to knock out the first of the Russian 122L Artys.
But...one Half-Track that I moved had inadvertently stayed in motion in the line of sight of a Joe Stalin II. I just missed it and it would prove to be a fatal mistake.
In another of my Turn 5 moves, I sent my southernmost Panther into a position to protect my flank from the Stalin II's.
In the Russian phase of Turn 5, the second Russian 122L Arty uncovered and went to work trying to take out one of my King Tigers.
My King Tiger took several hits...but shrugged them off.
In defensive fire, my Half-Track that had moved into the line of sight of the Stalin II's paid dearly for the mistake. It's loss took my CVP to 38. In an instant...I had only 1 CVP left. Despite my great moves on Turn 5...the game now balanced on a knife edge of 1 CVP. Every decision I would make the rest of the game would have to consider..."Will this move cost me a CVP?"
Ain't it so...
Ok...I got knocked down hard...but I had to get back up...
At the farmhouse sector I was pressing hard and in position to take objectives. But with 1 CVP...what risks could I afford. I had to go into Melee with the Arty crew...but had to be sure that #1 I would win and #2 that I would get ambush in order to exit the hex before a Joe Stalin II took off my head in the next Russian Prep Fire Phase. But if I failed to get ambush...what then.
So I nodded my head...and watched my 9-2 leap into CC with the Crew. And he failed to get the ambush...and he failed to eliminate the Crew...MELEE.
Dude that wasn't our agreement...(FYI...arguing with Cardboard never gets you anywhere...)
As we entered the Russian Phase of Turn 5...I could hear the Russians loading 122L shells to fire into the Melee and whack my 9-2 and win the game. But the Russian fire managed only to pin the Russian Crew...ok that was cool.
And then it happened. My ASL mistress wasn't quite done toying with me. My King Tiger fired at the Second Russian 122L Arty...just barely managed to hit it due to its large size...and then the roll for effect...Snake Eyes...in a blink of an eye, the second Soviet 122L Arty was gone...and the chances for a German Victory were suddenly real. Oh mistress of ASL...how cruel you can be!
Never one to leave anything to chance, my opponent, quickly moved Stalin II's and infantry into place to make the farmhouse a total death trap for any Germans foolish enough to enter. With both 122L Arty's out of the picture...the battle was now centered on the Farmhouse.
The infamous Board 4 Farmhouse...how many times since 1978 have I fought for control of his building? And were any of those attempts more thrilling than this one. I would say no. A battle, which I had convinced myself could not be won...was becoming one that could be won...but only if I were very careful. 1 CVP required restraint...
But the Russians weren't going to just sit and wait for the Germans to win in the final Advance Phase. They quickly moved into the Farmhouse and the adjoining trenches.
Turn 6 began with German morale and hopes high. The melee with the other 122L Arty gun crew still raged and I moved my tanks in an effort to drop smoke in hex Q5...but every smoke attempt failed. Then my Panther in S8 would make the final...disastrous move.
He would create a trail break through the woods and move to position himself to enfilade the Russian infantry behind the Farmhouse...but he forget one thing...he wasn't a King Tiger.
A Joe Stalin II behind the stonewall adjacent to the Farmhouse sighted the Panther and waited..."Use more MP he muttered...c'mon Germanski...use more MP...then I fire and send you to Valhalla!"
The long barrel of the Stalin II erupts and sends a shell slamming into the German Panther tank...and then rolls a Snake Eyes for effect. The Panther ceases to exist...46 CVP and game over.
The fatal move...
Once more knocked to the ground...not getting up this time.
But I'll be back!
There is always another Scenario and another chance for VICTORY!!!