For our Saturday game, Dan Best and I selected ASL Scenario 135-Acts of Defiance. This scenario is an urban brawl between lots of Soviet Infantry and German Fallschirmjaegers with Hitler Youth in the sewers, Goliaths down by the river and Russian artillery thundering overhead. In short...everything that makes ASL so much FUN!!!
I drew the Germans and was the attacker, trying to reduce a pocket of Soviet infantry that had penetrated the Breslau defenses. In addition to my Fallschirmjaeger, I also had one Brummbar and one Jagdpanzer IV. I would go on to lose both in about as embarrassing a way as possible. But we'll leave that for later.
Facing my boys would be Dan's mixed bag of 6-2-8's, 4-5-8's and 5-2-7's. Dan would also have three T-44's, and one module of 120mm Arty, which would knock me senseless throughout the game. Additionally, the Soviets would get 2 x IS-2's along with 5 more 6-2-8's. But interestingly, this reinforcing group would suffer the greatest losses of any of the Russian units.
This would also be the first time that I had used my T-44 counters. And believe me, it took me some time to find those bad boys. At one point, I began to doubt if there was such as vehicle.
But, they were indeed real and would be fairly efficient for the Russians in this scenario.
Now, we are once again joined by Professor Rollwright, who has offered to critique some of the game's more interesting moments. The Professor was rather interested in some of my tactical choices, which he found lacking in wisdom. I fear his logic on this subject is rather well founded as we shall see.
It's always nice to have the good Professor's insights and he never fails to tell it like it is.
Now of course, it was also nice to get some diagramming tips from a real master of the art....that's right...John Madden was in the house as well.
A few of my readers have commented over the years on the arrows and other squiggly lines that are frequently observed in my AAR maps. Well now you know the inspiration as I learned my art from a master.
The board at the start of Turn 1. Essentially, the Germans win by eliminating all good order Russian Units in the circled setup zone. Any other result is a Russian Victory. Historically, the Germans annihilated the Russian Pocket...well...I guess you could say that history doesn't always repeat itself...
"Hmmm...well, academically, I would have to disagree with your last statement. History does indeed repeat...and certainly the right tactical decisions help make that a probability."
errr...thanks...Dr. Rollwright...I'll keep that in mind.
I marked two fire groups in the back with opportunity fire. My 9-2 with the MMG was on the east edge and a single 4-6-7 with an LMG was in the center with line of sight down the center road. Neither stack would do much of anything throughout the game. And I would leave three vital 4-6-7's in the backfield for the entire game. Not very brilliant on my part.
Again Dr. Rollwright's imparted some wisdom that in ASL, moving is often more important than firing. I know...I know...old habits die hard...along with my counters.
On the South edge, I moved the two Goliaths towards the bridges, which were the only way for the Russian reinforcements to cross the canal. I muffed my initial placement and was not able to move the second Goliath to the other bridge. It was of course my first game ever with the Goliaths...so rookie mistake on my part.
Oh c'mon guys...can we get serious for a minute...this is ASL...not Stratego...
Another interesting aspect of this scenario was the single Hitler Youth Half-Squad with a Panzerschreck in the sewers. Again...it has been a looong time since I used sewer movement. Suffice to say I played whack-a-mole and lost.
Sorry Peter Krantz...my bad...
My strategy...(I know as if I had one) was to drive along the West edge and then have my boys by the bridge come in from the East. My Brummbar was going to go up against the Z2 Building and my Jagdpanzer IV was going to go hull down behind the wall and control the Y Road. As you will see I went a different direction.
Now, one of my plans that did go according to plan occurred on the east board edge. I had moved in such a way as to put two panzerschrecks in range of the T-44 guarding that flank. When it started up the squad in GG1 fired, hit and knocked out the first tank of the scenario. Many more tanks would fall before this game ended.
This panzerschreck team would go on to take out an IS-2 later in the game. From a mission contribution standpoint, they would be a standout unit for my Germans.
Turn 2 also brought on the Russian reinforcements. The two IS-2's came rumbling on and my 9-1 with the MMG tried to rake the riders off the tanks. I failed on the first try, but the residual fire pinned the riders on the second IS-2. They would never make it across the canal.
My Hitler Youth half-squad moved and prepared to pop up in the Z6 hex.
Professor Rollwright questioned the wisdom of having the squad pop up adjacent to two Russian tanks and with supporting infantry encircling the hex as well.
I told the good professor...that I'd get back to him on what I was thinking...because at the time...I really had no idea...
It was also at this time, that Dan activated his OBA. I never did find the HIP'd observer, but suffice to say, he brought down the rain on me for the remainder of the game as Dan pulled 4 black cards in a row.
On my next movement phase, my first Goliath approached the Russians. They successfully and safely destroyed it. Drats...I had such high hopes for my Goliath.
Now we come to the tragedy of my Turn 2 movement. I should have stuck to my initial plan...but no, I changed it midstream. I decided to move both tanks to support my attack to the center and east portion of the map. I was stalled there and felt that success there would open up the battle. And I figured that crossing through just one hex in LOS of Dan's T-44 and IS-2 was a pretty safe bet.
This is what a bad idea looks like...in case you were curious.
With the Brummbar knocked out, I sent the Jagdpanzer forward and it actually made it...but I needed one more MF to stop. So I decided to take the ESB roll...I rolled my dice..."11" immobilized. Great...just like that both German tanks were out of the fight.
As a side note...my dice plagued me in this game...I mean plagued. I rolled so many 11's that even Dan was commenting on the terrible dice rolls I was coming up with. But the dice cannot be controlled, so you just carry on and hope the next roll will be better or the next...or the next...
Then the air grew still and the shrieks of incoming artillery filled the city. My boys hunkered down in the ruins and hoped that Dan would roll high.
Now we get to the moment when my Hitler Youth crept out of the sewers. Naturally, tragedy ensued as they were fired on from all sides and would even be overrun by the IS-2 before finally being eliminated.
Having bloodied me pretty good, Dan went on a min-offensive with this armor. His infantry in the center skulked for much of the game, which kept me from focusing effective Defensive Fire against them.
Dan's hard fighting infantry would be the difference in the game.
Back in the South, things continued to go well for my Germans. The IS-2 in this area was knocked out by an 8-3-8 with a Panzerfaust and the Russian infantry routed back.
So at the mid-point of the game, things were actually looking very good for the Russians. The Germans had not gotten very far forward and lacked the firepower and leadership to do much. My decision to leave the 9-2 in the background continued to be a bad one.
My boys upfront...were simply losing the battle at the line of scrimmage.
Dan's Russians in the South moved up to try and put some fire on my boys.
Dan continued to be aggressive and jumped into CC with my boys under the Jagdpanzer in X2. Hand to Hand fighting ensued as we were locked in Melee.
Things were definitely getting medieval!!!
Dan and I both experienced some great rolls to take the edge off of so many bad ones. The Russians would create one Hero and the Germans would go on to create two Heroes.
Now...some more fun times occurred as my second Goliath sped like a Mini-Cooper right for the Russians. The HMG fired away....and BOOM...it destroyed the Goliath but also set if off, which DM'd the Russians.
Meanwhile, medieval hand-to-hand melee participants were about to share an awful fate.
The Russian 120mm Arty rained down again and everyone in the X2, hex including the Jagdpanzer IV were KIA'd. Germans and Russians alike were vaporized in the blast.
Feeling pretty down at this stage of the game, I nonetheless soldiered on and sent my infantry back into the fray.
I continued to have success in the South. I sent one 3-3-8 across the bridge and they succeeded in capturing the Russian HMG...but they wouldn't keep it for long.
My 8-3-8 successfully placed a DC on the broken 6-2-8 and eliminated them.
As we neared the end of the game, things were not looking good for the Germans. The Russians were still well entrenched and I lacked the firepower to dislodge them.
Dan's boys did a great job.
With his two remaining tanks, both T-44's, Dan moved them in an intricate dance to shield his X6 stronghold. It brought a moment of comic relief as we watched these tanks pirouette in the midst of Breslau's ruins.
I'll admit...it was a thing of beauty watching those T-44's move into position.
The infantry battles continued to be intense and fun as the game neared the end. The 6-2-8 in V4 would be unsuccessful in stopping my assaulting troops.
Just maybe my boys were going to get lucky!!
Back in the South, the Russians eliminated by audacious 3-3-8 and reclaimed their HMG.
In my final Prep Fire of the game, I unloaded on the 6-2-8 in V4...and yep...you guessed it, I rolled an "11". I will not lie...I was bummed out...just way too many "11"s all night long.
Well...if Prep Fire don't work...jump into Melee. Dan and I would enjoy some great Hand-to-Hand struggles in this game.
With time running out, Dan's Russians continued to hold out in their strong points.
The last act of the game, would be my boys firing off a final round of Panzerfausts, which succeeded in destroying one of the T-44's. At game end, only one tank, a T-44 would be left. All the others were eliminated.
With the conclusion of Turn 5, I offered the concession. We had been hard at it for nearly five hours and it was clear to me that I didn't have the force or the time necessary to push the Russians out of the victory location.
My boys had given it their best, but the combinations of bad decisions, bad rolls and a stout Russian defense conspired against them.
Dan's Russians would celebrate!!!
Professor Rollwright would offer some post-game observations. He definitely saw room for improvement on properly moving the Goliaths and destroying the bridges, which would have stranded the Russian reinforcements and allowed that group of Germans to support the main effort.
And the Valkyrie Death Ride of the German armor in turn 2...was nothing short of stupidity. Those assets, particularly the Brummbar should have been more carefully employed to shatter the Russian infantry.
But live and learn, I thank Professor Rollwright for joining us for this latest AAR.
My thanks to Dan Best for another great game.
Goodbye for now...until the next post.