STALINGRAD...there is perhaps no more iconic battle for ASL Players. It is the Alpha and the Omega of our shared wargaming experience. It is the place where we first learn the ropes of ASL and it is the place that permeates our dreams about the game. It is the training ground and the crucible through which all ASL players pass. And it's first and most famous test is the GUARDS COUNTERATTACK.
My Friday game was called due to technical problems. My regular STL Opponent has now missed three straight game nights because of technical difficulties. His equipment is severely outdated (trust me 10 years+ too old) and the result is frequent SKYPE drops and most recently...microphone and internet connection issues. My Regular STL opponent will eventually have to upgrade and once he does, our Friday games should resume.
Fortunately for me, Dan Best had scheduled a Saturday game night with to try Cardboard via SKYPE for the first time. I recommended playing the Guards Counterattack as a good primer for getting into the groove of Cardboard via SKYPE. I think Dan was in the groove by the second Rally Phase. I won't get into a Cardboard via SKYPE lecture series with this post and most of you are very familiar with that method of playing ASL long distance.
Dan and I only ran into one problem. He was using the Hardboard Map 1 and I had setup on the Starter Kit Map 1. There are major differences in some of the building depictions. So you will note that around Turn 2, I switched out to my Hardboard Map 1 to ensure that both sides were on the same "Page" if you will. So when you see the pictures change suddenly..you will know why.
For the night's cardboard carnage, Dan drew the Germans and I the Russians. The task of seizing two buildings from the Germans would fall to my 12 x 6-2-8's. Did I mention that I would have 12 x 6-2-8's !!! It doesn't get any better than that!! And my 10-2 would be leading these fine fellows into the maelstrom of combat!
All in all I liked my chances for success in this scenario. The Russians really have an edge if they can just avoid being mowed down in the open by the German machine guns.
But I think Dan thought his chances for holding off the Russians were pretty good.
As most players know, this scenario pretty much dictates the placement of your troops. This is really helpful when you are new to the game and certainly allows for a fast setup.
I quickly rolled the Turn 1 wind change and then went right to work. My objectives for the game were the H building and the J building. I will admit, I was a bit reckless in throwing my boys across the street. Some of my boys did break...but I managed to get into the building!
Over on the right...my 4-4-7's didn't fare as well. I had placed my Commissar right in the mix rather than holding him back. I was planning a human wave assault for Turn 2. But I did not get the chance.
On the left, things went pretty well for my Russians. Enough of my boys made it into the building to give me a solid chance of taking it.
The first of many snake eyes that Dan would roll during the night.
(You can also see that Dan mastered the camera setup perfectly!)
As the Russian phase of Turn 1 neared it's end, things were really positive for putting the hurt on the H Building. But oh...how things would change.
As my phase of Turn 1 ended, I had managed to win the first CC in Building H and was moving to conrol the staircase in F6. I had also succeeded in DM'ing some Germans in the J Building,
Dan's Germans had been rocked a bit...but they quickly regrouped to put some hurt on me.
Our Snipers would both be very active. With SAN's of 6 it would be no surprise. In this picture, the Russian Sniper succeeded in reducing the German Sniper by 1.
Borya would make his presence felt a few times during the game.
Turn 2, my boys on the right decided to go for it and head over to the H Building. The Germans would lay down a fire lane, but my boys would make it across.
The German MG's would prove to be decisive in this game.
ASL...ever the unpredictable game...saw one of my 4-4-7's go berserk and run into the Germans in L6 and meet their doom. But this removed the fire land and freed up other units to rush the J Building.
Despite losing my berserk squad, I was relatively pleased that my boys were in the J Building. The Germans inside were nearly all broken except the 8-0 officer and he would be unsuccessful in rallying them until the Russians finally KIA'd them all.
Honestly, I was very surprised that I had been successful in getting so many boys into the J Building. I had been planning to seize the H Building first.
Going into Turn 3, my Russians had managed to encircle the Germans in both buildings H and J. But clearing the buildings would prove to be very difficult indeed.
The Germans in the H Building would refuse to give up and managed to hold out for the remainder of the game.
And silly things like the German sniper would aid their cause by breaking a key 6-2-8 that had been planning to go upstairs and take care of business.
Nice shooting Uwe.
As the battle progressed it would become clear that the Germans in I7 were enemy #1. These men lead by the German 9-2 would chew my boys up throughout the game and dash my hopes for victory.
Of course other strange moments would occur as our battle raged. A broken 2-3-7 would suddenly roll snakes and battle harden to a 2-4-8. It's the little things that make me happy!!
Way to rally boys!!!
As my Russians got bogged down in securing the H and J Buildings...my opponent sensed a moment to strike and take some territory away from me on the right. His HMG group dashed for the M Building... but were cut down in the street. The HMG would remain in the street for the remainder of the scenario, with another German squad being cut down later in the game while trying to recover it.
As Turn 3 began to wrap up, the Russians had taken the J Building and seemed poised to take the H Building. But...the Germans had struck hard on my right side and were taking control of Building M. I planned to send boys from the H Building to retake it...but I would not get the opportunity.
It was at the end of Turn 3 that things turn a dire turn for the worst. The German 10-2 would battle harden and go Heroic. The I7 boys were going to make sure the Germans won this battle!
As the Germans seemed to regain their strength, my Russians were beginning to thin out on the right and left. Dan's well positioned "Death Stars" were exacting a heavy toll on my boys. And Building H was not looking like it would go down any time soon.
The Snipers activated one after the other and wrecked havoc on both the Germans and the Russians in Building H.
Then fate struck again, the Germans in I7 successfully created a Hero...because a Heroic 10-2 just wasn't enough!!!
This Hero stuff was starting to get to me!!
As the battle reached its zenith, I sent three 6-2-8's up the stairs in F6. The German 8-1 Kill stack in L6 opened up on them and DM'd all three. It would prove to the be fatal hit on my Russians.
I couldn't tell from the map that the stairwell was that open to enemy fire...oh well...live and learn...
So there I was, watching in silence as the Germans slowly reclaimed Building H and began completing turning the right flank. My reckless, early moves were now beginning to haunt me. Troops that had perished in those early turns, were not available to check the German advances.
With the conclusion of the game no longer in doubt, my boys continued to trade fire with the Germans...but with no appreciable effect.
Dan and I would finish the Russian Phase of Turn 4 and call it a game. The Germans had managed to hold on to Building H and seize two of the previously held Russian buildings on the right flank. It was a clear German victory.
So Dan had completed his first scenario by Cardboard via SKYPE. And he had pulled out a win on the old school scenario!
Now...following our game...I became curious about the Bear in the background. A little research revealed the following:
My thanks to Dan for a great game and I am already looking forward to our next scenario!!!