Our Tuesday game was a continuation of Scenario AP101, which was begun the Saturday before. Due to work travel, I wasn't able to blog about the first half of the game, so this game will be covered in one post.
Dan and I elected to play Scenario AP101 When I call Roll. This would be my first experience with a beach landing. Hard to believe after playing this game since 1978...that I would just now be experiencing my first beach landing. Of course that's the beauty of ASL. What other game could you play for thirty years and still be experiencing completely new game play? Quick answer...there ain't one. I am continually reminded that ASL stands heads and shoulders above any other game out there. Nothing even comes close.
I drew the Americans and would be landing on Omaha Beach...Dog Green Beach to be exact. Opposing me would be Dan's 726 Infantry Regiment. They would not exactly be the Wehrmacht's finest...and for that I was very grateful. Dan would have 50 men with 2 x 8-0's, an LMG and an HMG with fortifications, mines, wire, and a 50L AT Gun. I would be landing with 5 x 6-6-7's, 14 x 6-6-6's, with a 9-2, 2 x 9-1, 2 x 8-1, 5 x bazookas, and 5 x MMG's. And I would be lucky to survive the first three turns of the game.
I have played a few great scenarios over the years, but what would transpire during out two sessions for AP101 will stick with me for a very long time. This scenario really captured for me what that beach landing under fire must have been like. Watching my squads melt was tough...but struggling off that beach and up and over that seawall was epic gaming. And the improbable conclusion of this scenario is still messing with my head as I write this...what a game...what a game...
As the game began, Dan's men saw the LCA's coming in.
"Die Invasion...Sie kommen!"
My first wave of 4 LCA's ready to head into the beaches. Each shallow water hex would require a bog roll. Those bog rolls would become a pain as the game progressed.
Dan and initially messed up the Tetrahedron placement and they were revealed too early. And predictably, my LCA's avoided them. We would correct this error and Dan would relocate them for the next wave of LCA's.
Dan's Germans were quick to open fire on my LCA's as they approached the beach. The 50LAT Gun successfully obtained several hits and kept rate, but high effect die rolls kept the gun from successfully destroying an LCA.
Even though none of my LCA's was destroyed, two of them were in fact heavily damaged.
My second wave came in with three more LCA's. One of these would bog and run aground.
Up until this point, none of my boys had left the LCA's. But ramps were down on the 4 Wave 1 LCA's and it was time to move into the "killing field". I truly did not appreciated the hell I was about to wander into. And yes, I would leave two of my boats in stacks to move with an officer and get to the seawall as quickly as possible.
Time to go...
The ramps went down and my boys began running up the beach. On the right, the German HMG revealed itself in a bunker and raked the sand. A squad or two were reduced, but most of my boys reached the seawall. On the left...two boats emptied corpses onto the sand. the German LMG in the other bunker scored a snakes down 2 and my boys evaporated in a red mist. The German sniper also joined the fun and took out some boys as well. The 50L AT Gun HE'd the rest. In the blink of an eye my attack on the left was completely annihilated.
I will admit...I was staggered by my losses and knew full well that I should not have moved as a stack. I gambled and I lost hard.
Both German bunkers had been revealed as well as the trench system on the right flank.
My first wave losses were rough and I began to worry that I had lost too many squads...waaay too soon.
On the right flank, I was in pretty satisfactory position with boys both beyond and behind the seawall. And in a desperate move, I sent a squad into CC with the bunker, which ended in Melee, but would keep the HMG occupied.
My 2nd wave would emerge from two of the LCA's as the third was still stuck aground. With the German 50L AT Gun crew DM'd the HMG having re-positioned into and adjacent trench, my boys had an easier trek up the beach. I did however hit a minefield in front of the 50L AT Gun position.
Overall, pretty pleased with the run up the beach for the second wave.
My boys had made fair progress against fairly stiff resistance. Who knew 2-3-7's and 2-4-7's could be so tough to face.
Dan's Germans would fall back to protect the LMG and the HMG. The risk in moving back was that my squads would take enough fortifications to force the Germans to take the MMC check per SSR 3. Essentially, each fortification occupied by my boys would reduce the German ELR by 1. Once the German ELR reaches 0, then every German MMC would have to take a Normal Task Check. Any and all units failing it would be eliminated. So the risk for Dan was very real.
On the right, I was bogged down in front of the bunker and trench system. I attempted to exit my final LCA, but Dan set up a 6 factor fire lane. My 9-1 officer successfully ran that gauntlet of fire, but I would not send anyone else through that fire. It was too much...6 down 2...just too risky.
As fate would have it, the 9-1 that charged alone across the beach would be the only US officer alive at Game End.
Amazingly my forces were moving inland at a pretty good pace. I had captured the 50L AT GUn and was busy taking pop shots at the Germans.
Captured use of the AT-Gun would ultimately break the gun. Not too upset as I hadn't expected to do much with it.
On the right, I finally got my last three squads off the LCA and into the fight and not a phase too soon. On the left, I continued to press hard and was fully engaged with Dan's boys.
2-3-7's and 2-4-7's never fought as well and as hard as Dan's did.
Despite, the resistance, my boys managed to get into the German positions. And although all the buildings were fortified, Dan's half-squads could not prevent me from advancing into Close Combat. My boys had the decisive edge where CC was concerned.
A good look at what I had left as the clock began to wind down on the scenario. I was really doubting that I could achieve the Victory Conditions...but pressed on.
Okay...I got it...
Dan's Germans continued to rock me back on my heels as I lost both pillboxes.
With time expiring...I sent my boys forward on both the left and the right.
Suddenly, the German 2-4-7 in the left bunker goes berserk!!!
Oh boy...berserk Germans...
On the left, my boys went into CC with the Germans adjacent. On the right, I was still too far away for CC.
Dan had three major concentrations. The Victory Conditions required that I either eliminate all good order German units from all fortifications or win immediately be existing 5 VP off the south board edge. Things were looking pretty bleak...
But just as I was preparing to accept defeat...SSR 3 kicked in as I occupied my fourth fortification location. Dan had to have each of his remaining MMC's take a normal Task Check. The blue X's mark those units which failed and were removed from play.
Last turn of the game...and suddenly the German defense just disappears...wow...I couldn't believe it. Suddenly, my Americans actually had a shot at winning.
The only Germans remaining were both led by 8-0's. Dan's 8-0's had done an outstanding job all day. Now, they would be facing overwhelming US forces.
My boys jumped into close combat with Dan's remaining squads and the odds were just stacked against the Germans.
It was over quick.
A final look at the game. An absolutely improbable victory for my Americans. Despite, bad decisions, bad luck, and a stiff German defense...I had somehow come away with a win. It certainly goes to show that you are never out of a game until you take yourself out of a game. The VC for this scenario were designed to reward to the American Player, who kept moving forward and taking positions.
While my Americans won this scenario...my losses were staggering...Officers KIA'd - 1 x 9-2, 1 x 9-1, 2 x 8-1, 3-1/2 x 6-6-7's, and 6-1/2 x 6-6-6. Over 100 men KIA'd.
My thanks to Dan for another great game and a tip of the hat for a defense that held the line for 6 turns. It was an SSR that ultimately cracked open the German defense.
A great scenario and for those of you on the fence about playing a beach landing...go for it and let this scenario be the way to ease you into it. It's pretty straight forward and easy once you get rolling.
Yes, I heard Tom Hanks telling me to earn this...because at the conclusion of the game, I just felt a bit like I hadn't earned the victory. Of course you must always remember to play the Victory Conditions and that is particularly true in this scenario.
On this Thanksgiving Day 2016, we remember the sacrifice of others that allow us to enjoy days like these.