Monday, April 4, 2016

Playtest of the "The Last Princes of Prussia"

Back in March, fellow Facebook ASL Group member, Kevin Conley asked if I would be interested in doing a bit of play testing of his TANKER'S DELIGHT VOL. I "Union of Soviet Man and Machine" (copyright PRC Productions) scenarios. With some time available, I gave my assent and Kevin provided two scenarios to play test with my son as the primary opponent.

The first scenario to be tested was "The Last Princes of Prussia". This scenario takes place in East Prussia in April of 1945.  A single board, 6 is used and the chateau is a Prussian Castle. The Germans are defending in a 6-1/2 turn game. The Germans have 6 AFV's and 4 squads to try and stop 14 Russian Tanks, 2 x 82 Mortars and 6 squads of 6-2-8 (keeping the details to a minimum in order to protect the scenario.) The VC are centered on controlling the Castle.

Prior to play, I read through the two pages of additional rules, which accompany Kevin's Tanker's Delight scenario pack. The rules cover additions to the quality and capabilities of Tank Crews with varying experience levels. Overall, a solid concept and one, which enhanced the playing of this tank heavy scenario.

My son and I found that this scenario played fast over two evenings and was great fun as I just threw the Russian hordes into the teeth of the German defense to fully test the new Tanker's Delight rules set and to just see what would happen.

As the photo record which follows will show, the two sides destroyed tanks willy nilly, but despite huge losses in armor, the Russian force (with a few lucky hits) succeeded in completing destroying the German force by the end of Turn 6. (PLAY BALANCE NOTE: recommend the German balance of 5-1/2 Turns. 

Another interesting aspect of this scenario is the Russian Player gets to choose which side of the map to attack from. My son guessed correctly with his HIP tanks that I would attack from the direction that I did, but I definitely think this makes the scenario very challenging for the German player.

In a departure from the normal Grumble Jones antics - Here now follows the straight play test photos.

 By SSR, the Germans had to roll to see which staircase hexes would be rubbled. The intent was for one to be rubbled, but a tie roll resulted in 2 rubbled stairwell hexes...which in a stroke of luck for the Germans would face the direction of the Russian assault.

 By SSR and date, the orchard was not in season, so visibility for the Germans was good.

 Two German AFV's were HIP'd. They are shown in Row K. I moved my Russian 6-2-8's very conservatively, but my son opened up from long range and broke two squads right off the bat.

 There would be an abundance of 12's rolled during this game.

 The German MKIV would dog my armor early and often in the first two turns. ROF would be a Prussian Prince's best friend!!!

 My son would break his MMG and it would never chatter again.

 Both my son and I kept all of our armor buttoned up.

 My son's string of 12's would continue as his 9-1 rolled a 12 on his first MC and would go on to be wounded.

 By Turn 2, the tank killing on both sides began in earnest.

 The German MKIV was a serious stud and laid low my onrushing tanks.

 As my armor swarmed the Germans, I moved my two big ISU-122's into the fray. And then in Advancing Fire rolled back to back "12's" ...malfing the MA on both of my big tanks. Neither one would fire a shot the entire scenario.

 My son found it all rather amusing!!!

My son isn't quite an avid ASL player, but who doesn't enjoy watching their opponent roll BOXCARS!?!
 I continued my super aggressive attack and pushed my armor right on top of the Germans.

 My son's Germans would punish me accordingly.

 But my Russians had some good luck as well as a critical hit by one of my mortars on the M6 Germans with the broken MMG KIA'd the lot.

 Boris Mortarovich did some fine shooting!

 My son tried hard to protect his Nashorn and it took down two of my T-34/85's before going down.

 One of the SSR's also allowed the Russians to dismount two 50 Cal HMG's. I took advantage of this and it really helped me put down some heavy fire on the Germans in the Castle.

 The final moments of the Nashorn.

 My son wasn't too unhappy with a 2 for 1 trade.

 Despite my heavy losses, my boys were still making good progress and I wasn't too worried about the outcome.

 My son would MALF one of his MA and be forced to Recall (as per TD special rules)

 The end nears for my son's German defenders. Another critical hit from a T-34/85 against a 4-4-7 eliminated another badly needed squad.

 My Russian infantry surged forward with nothing to stop them.

 The biggest challenge for my boys was getting up the stairs to root out the last of the German defenders.

 A veritable tank graveyard surrounded the castle.

 In the end a broken and wounded 9-1 Officer and a concealed 7-0 were all that remained in the castle. They would both vanish by the end of the final Close Combat Phase.

 The last Corporal...

 A great little scenario, which packed a ton of armor into a small space. At first, I thought all the armor was a bit much, but as the game played out, it really worked out pretty well. 

As for balance, the game came down to the very end. I would definitely recommend the German balance of reducing the Turns from 6-1/2 to 5-1/2 or in lieu of that change the Russian Victory conditions from Immediate to elimination of all good order German units in the Castle.

Kudos to Mr. Conley for a very well developed and fun scenario.

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