For our Saturday game, Dan Best and I decided to kick it old school and break out ASL Scenario 10 - The Citadel. This scenario reaches all the way back to the earliest days of ASL for me. My scenario card is aged and showing the wear of 28 years. This classic scenario has a reputation for being a bloody brawl...and it would not disappoint. By the time, the game concluded Dan's Germans would leave 15 squads KIA'd on the board and my Russians nearly the same number. I haven't played a scenario with that level of cardboard carnage in a long time.
This scenario deals with the epic battle for the Brest-Litovsk Citadel, which bedeviled the German advance during the early days of Operation Barbarossa. It would be the first hint of the difficult fighting ahead. The epic defense is still the source of books and films in Russia. Most recently, the Russian film Fortress of War (and other titles) was released in 2010. It's production values and over the top action are reminiscent of the recent Stalingrad movie. Various clips can be found on Youtube.
Russian courage was certainly on display at Brest-Litovsk.
As the Scenario Defender, I would command elements of the Russian 44th Rifle Regiment. I would have a HUGE force of 26 x 4-4-7's. 6 x 5-2-7's led by a 9-2, 9-1, 10-0, 8-1, 2 x 8-0's and a 7-0. Supporting this force would be 2 x MMG's, 3 x LMG's, 3 x Machine Gun Cupolas, 2 x Bunkers, 2 x 45L AT Guns and 1 x 37L AA Gun.
My task in the scenario would be two fold. Number 1, I would have to take the H3 Building away from the Germans and then prevent significant German reinforcements from taking it back again.
But I had confidence that tonight would be different!!
Dan drew the Germans would be the scenario attacker commanding elements of the 133rd and 135th Infantry Regiments. Dan would have to hold the citadel and move a strong reinforcement group to the Citadel. This would be no easy task. The Germans inside the Citadel would consist of 7 x 4-6-7's, led by a 9-2, 8-1, and 7-0 with an MMG and 2 X LMG's. Coming to their rescue would be 3 x Stug Short Barreled 75's, 19 x 4-6-7's, led by a 10-2, 2 x 9-1's, 2 x 8-1s, and 3 x 8-0's with an HMG, MMG, and 2 x LMG's with 100mm OBA for some extra SPICE!
My strategy was to create defensive pockets with interlocking fire that were intended to slow down the German advance for as long as possible. At the Citadel, my plan was to rush everyone possible into the building as quickly as possible.
My 4-5-8 in the church would ultimately eliminate a 9-1 and 4 x 4-6-7's.
A look at the German initial advance and my delaying pockets.
My fanatic 4-5-8 begins its epic defense.
Dan's artillery would begin softening up my center pocket.
On my phase of Turn 1, I launched my 5-2-7 wave in the first assault on the Citadel.
Luck was with my boys and the first units were able to get into Melee with the Germans.
Back on the left, Dan's forces began moving toward the center and ultimately to the Citadel.
Turn 2 would be equally frustrating for Dan's Schwerpunkt as my 4-5-8 continued to resist.
My forces in the center pocket were not able to stop Dan's advance in the early part of the game.
At the Citadel, Dan's boys returned fire and tried to push back my surrounding troops.
The situation from Fiesler Storch at the conclusion of two turns.
Close combats in the center pocket went to the Germans as my forces crumpled under the onslaught.
Dan's Germans would win the close combats on the left, but struggle at the Citadel and in the Church.
I tried to pull my boys back in the center...anything to buy more time for assault on the Citadel.
Turn 3...the Church is still held by a single Russian 4-5-8.
My fanatic 4-5-8 would be the game changing unit on the board.
The assault on the Citadel began to pick up steam.
German resistance was fierce..but when the German 9-2 broke...so too did the German defense.
Dan's Germans defended the staircase tenaciously!
Back at the church, the German 9-1 and a two 4-6-7's with LMG's would fall to the fanatic 4-5-8. The 9-1 and a few of the Landsers would be taken prisoner.
Back at the Citadel, the broken Germans had retreated to the 2nd floor, while a Melee raged on the ground floor.
Back in the center, the Germans would continue to push forward.
With my prisoners, my 4-5-8 had deployed into 2 half-squads. Going into Turn 4, I knew time was running out for my boys. And I would have to decide what to do with my prisoners...
Dan finally managed to eliminate one of my armored cupolas.
Back at the church, Dan's Turn 4 Prep Fire managed to DM one of my fanatic half-squads. The end was coming.
As Dan's Landsers finally crossed the canal and stormed the church...I had to decide what to do with the German 9-1 and 4-6-7 prisoners. I couldn't let them rejoin the fight...so for the first time in my nearly 30 years of playing ASL...I massacred my prisoners. Dan's ELR went up by 1 for all German units...so my decision was not without consequences.
In the center, my boys were falling, but I was still putting tremendous fire on Dan's boys from outside that pocket.
On Turn 4, Dan's arty went off course and would come down on his spotter.
Fortunately for Dan, it would only Pin his boys.
Back at the Citadel, I decided to have all my units fire into the melee, where my 10-0 Commissar was leading the assault. When the fire died down...only the wounded Commissar was left alive.
In the center, Dan's boys had prevailed.
At the Church, Dan's Landsers had finally taken control.
My heroic 4-5-8 was sacrificed...but it held back Dan's Schwerpunkt for 4 turns. Nothing more could have been asked of them.
Back at the Citadel...things went a bit loopy as Dan's 9-2 went berserk and took two squads in a death charge down the staircase.
It would end badly with the deaths of all the Germans.
With the Citadel all but captured, Dan focused on trying to get troops to it as fast as possible, before my Russians fortified it.
Russian resistance continued to hinder their advance.
In the center, Dan's previously victorious Grenadiers attempted to advance and were mowed down by fire from multiple locations. One of my armored Cupolas went on a rate tear and added misery to German fortunes.
I had seriously underestimated the value of the armored Cupolas. Just one of them would shatter Dan's advance in the center.
Going into Turn 5 and the half-way mark of the scenario, the situation for Dan's Germans was bleak. The Citadel was falling to my boys, and Dan's two main efforts in the center and far right had been seriously weakened by losses. They simply didn't have the strength to take back the Citadel.
Dan's Grenadiers had fought valiantly, but their losses had been too heavy.
A long and exhausting night of ASL. I was completely drained by this scenario.
A final look at the battlefield following Dan's concession on Turn 5.
Dan's Landsers had been relentless, but had suffered too many losses to carry on the fight and take back the Citadel.
The Citadel had lived up to its name and had been a brutal slug fest with heavy losses suffered by both sides. And surprisingly the Citadel turned out to be a Church defended by a single 4-5-8...ASL never fails to amaze!
My Russians would win the day, but at great cost.
My thanks to Dan once again for another great Saturday of ASL and for a game I won't soon forget!