Our Friday game was Heat of Battle's FF-8 "Send in the Sand Rabbits". Late last year, Scott Holst and I had considered playing it, but switched it out as the Victory Conditions seemed a bit odd to us both at that time. My STL opponent and I looked at it and thought..."yeah, King Tigers...IS-2's...yeah let's play this one!"
I drew the Russians and was both defender and counter-attacker. My STL opponent had the Germans with two King Tigers, two Panzerjaeger IV's and the Sand Rabbits (German Paras). At first glance, this scenario seems a little more complex than the average one. The Russians begin with a small ambush force anchored by a 100L AT Gun and an JSU-152. Not too shabby to ambush with that kind of firepower.
The Germans gain VC for each turn they are able to advance infantry past Row T. Meanwhile, both sides record CVP normally. Additionally, the Russian player gets reinforcements on Turn 3 consisting of 8 x 4-5-8's, 4 x Trucks, and 4 x IS-2's. That is one powerful force.
Liberating Europe should be a snap with that force!!!
Of course...just one problem...yeah... 2 x King Tigers. Historically I have had a poor track record of success when facing them and even most recently when under my control. So I was definitely worried about how to slow down the big cats long enough for my reinforcements to arrive on Turn 3. Three turns was more than enough for my opponent to push through to the T Row and start racking up VP. But as we shall see...caution became the byword for my opponent.
A brief look at the ASL Archive showed the Russians tend to win this scenario more often than not. It definitely looks tough for the Germans who only have 6 squads. Armor wise, the 2 x King Tigers really give the Germans a solid edge, but the weakness in infantry could definitely be a problem.
Additionally, a German 9-2 Armor Leader lends a significant advantage to the German force.
Before leaping in to the night's gaming, I wanted to do a mini Cardboard via SKYPE clinic. Some folks have asked me how I manage this style of play, so these pics can show the Grumble Jones ASL Foxhole. My STL opponent likes to aim his camera at this setup and I aim mine at the dice cup, as I can't really aim the camera at my boards, given where I locate them during the game. Now I almost never look at the screen during the game. I'm focused on my game boards and listening to my opponent's instructions, etc. And for those who are probably wondering...no I don't see my opponent's dice rolls. Keep in mind we are both 51 years old and have been friends since we were 13 and playing ASL together since 1989. Trust...enough said.
My desk has been converted to an ASL storage, work and game center. Everything I need for any given game is within arm's reach.
My desk is also covered with various knick-knacks....work stuff and other misc. things. And yes...that's duct tape. Got tired of the paint wearing off my cheap-ass desk...so covered it with duct tape...much to my wife's dismay. But hey...it works!!!
Oh... I wish you wouldn't...
My opponent started off our game with a somewhat limited movement forward. I had expected a strong move to slip past my ambush line with troops on each of the tanks. Wrong...The infantry more or less crept onto the board and the tanks moved very cautiously with only a Jagdpanzer IV in the North moving to a hull-down position against my JSU-152.
Yeah...I was a bit surprised by the tentative advance. I was glad of course, because slowing down the Germans was my primary objective for my ambush force.
The Jagdpanzer IV made a great move. In my D-Fire I simply shifted the JSU-152 to be hull-down should the King Tiger move forward. I felt confident that I could shrug off the 75L shots from the Jagdpanzer IV.
In the south, my opponent moved with similar caution. He had anticipated that my AT-Gun was hidden in the woods at X1. But it wasn't...
For the most part, I fired no one in D-Fire and tried to maintain my concealment as much as possible.
My strategy of just letting the Jagdpanzer IV plink away at my JSU-152 wasn't exactly a good one. I survived the D-Fire from my opponent, but in his Turn 2 Prep-Fire, the dice blessed him with a burning JSU-152.
As my opponent went into his Turn 2 movement, I managed a lucky PTC against his concealed 8-1 stack. And managed to pin the two 5-4-8's with the 8-1.
Nice shooting boys!
Now in the South, the Germans moved into the kill box for my 100L AT Gun. I took deep breaths and told my boys to hold their fire. We could hear German 5-4-8's crawling through the rubble nearby. I couldn't risk a shot at a moving target that I had just seen...miss...and then face advancing fire from the German Sand Rabbits. So...my AT Gun Leader...held his fire.
My opponent had positioned his Jagdpanzer IV in the direction where he believed my AT Gun was. And in doing so...exposed his rear to where my gun really was.
My opponent's tendency to roll boxcars at the worst time...continue to plague him. His northern King Tiger went to shower some HE love on my LMG boys...but instead malf'd the MA.
Back in the south...my Prep Fire finally arrived and my AT Gun slammed home a shell into the rear of the Jagdpanzer IV. It had no chance and burst into flames.
As Turn 2 wrapped up, the Germans were still pretty far from the T-Row and my boys were holding well in the South. Up North, I had been broken and routed back in the 2 story building. But overall, heading into Turn 3, I was feeling very confident. The Russian plan was going pretty well.
Boris checks off the Jagdpanzer IV. Good points for us Comrades!!!
Turn 3 German movement. All the German paras made solid moves forward.
Fortunately for me the Germans were not able to get near my broken boys. They would rally in my part of Turn 3.
My opponent was feeling some frustration at that point, as he also didn't move any armor that might have DM'd my boys again.
Turn 3 Russian player saw the arrival of my reinforcements. I had been expecting that the Germans would be waiting at the end of the long roads...but the roads were wide open, so all my forces moved to the full extent of their movement points and all my infantry were in the 4 trucks.
4 x IS-2's...couldn't be happier!!!
Then it happened...my AT Gun crew had been successfully weathering fire from 2 x German 5-4-8's and keeping the southern King Tiger in check. But I rolled the German SAN and next thing I know my crew is broken. UGH!!!
Nice shooting and finally something for my opponent to cheer about.
We stopped for the night with the conclusion of Turn 3. A great night's worth of ASL. The game is still very much in doubt. The Germans now know where I intend to try and exit the board...but will the lone King Tiger be able to stem the Soviet Horde...guess we'll find out next week.