Sunday, July 15, 2018

Our Saturday Game - Scenario MM25 - Futile Bravery

For our Saturday game, Dan Best, Dave Mareske and I decided to play a three player game. With Dave onboard, Dan and I rescheduled our playing of A Breezeless Day for next Saturday. Three player scenarios are always a good time, so we were all stoked to play another one. We selected Scenario MM25 Futile Bravery from the Kansas City ASL Club's March Madness - Commissar Pack. 

This scenario pack is still available from the following weblink:

Futile Bravery is set during Operation Barbarossa and deals with the fighting for Smolensk as the Germans tried to hang onto a bridgehead into the center of the city as the Soviets struggled to take back the bridge.

 Dan Best is the scenario designer for Futile Bravery and I think he did a great job of putting together the right maps to depict this action.

After rolling for sides, Dan and I would be the Russians and be the scenario attackers. We would have a tough struggle ahead of us. We divided the force and Dan would command the primary attack from the north towards the bridge, while I would attack from the east and south of the bridge to tie down as many Germans as possible. The Russians win immediately by controlling one bridge hex. So it sounds easy but...unfortunately it would not be.

Dan would command the men of the Soviet 129th Rifle Division. His force would consist of 15 x 4-4-7's, 3 x 5-2-7's, led by a 9-1, 8-0, and 2 x 7-0's with 2 x MMG's, 4 x LMG's, 2 x ATR's, and a 50MTR.

I would command elements of the City Militia, Red Army Stragglers and some hard core NKVD half-squads. My force would consist of 25 x 4-2-6's, 6 x 3-2-8's, led by a 10-0, 9-0, and 2 x 8+1's with 6 x T26S M37 tanks for support. I wouldn't have even a single my long range firepower would be next to nothing.

As the Germans, Dave would be the scenario defender caught between two large Soviet forces. He would command elements of the German 29th Motorized Division. His force would consist of 5 x 4-6-8's, 10 x 4-6-7's, led by a 9-2, 9-1, 8-1, and 8-0 with an HMG, 2 x MMG's, 4 x LMG's, 2 X ATR's, and a Radio with 105mm OBA. For support he would have three halftracks and one of these would have an 81mm MTR. On Turn 2, he would get a PZ MKIII and 2 x PZ MKIIF's with an 9-1 and 8-1 armor leader.

Before we begin the AAR, we are joined tonight by our friend , Professor Rollwright from the ASL Academy. He would interview both Dave and Dan for pre-game and post-game comments. Here now are Dave and Dan's pre-game comments.

Dave's Pre-game comments:

"oly schnitzel Batman, that is a lot of Russians.  I love playing defense so when I rolled the Germans in this three[player game, I was not disappointed.  The Germans have a nice view of the battlefield, a good size OBA and plenty of firepower with leadership.  It is just a lot of Russians squads.  I am predicting several Human Waves so I need to set up some good fire lanes.  If the Russians come East through the hill town, I simply hope they will run out of time being slowed down by my half-tracks and 4-6-8 squads.  The OBA will be used to force the Russians down certain paths and I will place my HMG with the 9-2 leader high up in the town and hope for lots of ROF.  Given the narrow victory conditions my final defense will be around the bridge with one MMG, several squads and at least two tanks.  Given that there are two avenues of approach I intend to overload the east side on Board 60, making it undesirable for the Russians to use.  Then, with the half-tracks skirt the back of the hill for a final bridge defense.  I believe setting my half-track mortar in the graveyard gives a good chance for survival, hull down and a good view of the rubble.  I hope to keep 2-3 platoons on board 60 and 2 platoons north of the bridge on board 8.  Those two companies, the OBA and two tanks should be able to defend the bridge."

Dan's Pre-game comments:

"or the Russians the attraction of this scenario is the 3 to 1 advantage in numbers.  It is 2 to 1 in tanks.  Also the victory conditions are immediate for controlling any part of the bridge at the turn end.  These combine for a very fun game of attacking the German positions and overwhelming the defenders for the win.

The Russian advantage in number usually results in having to charge German defenders and close for point blank fire or close combat.  There are two tactics for this...Human waves and flooding.  Human wave attacks require 6 squads and a leader.  Although by SSR in this scenario the NKVD half squads can be used in place of the leader.  Flooding is the individual movement of three or more units to force the defender to defensive fire and subsequent defensive fire and the third (or more) units force the defender to FPF or face adjacent advancing fire and advancing Russians for close combat.  Generally the Russians can attack on both sides of the River and reach the bridge.  Giving the Russians the ability to attack, find where the Germans are weak and launch Human Wave attacks to overwhelm the Germans and then reach the bridge.

Looking at Dave's defense Scott and I decided to attack as follows.  The set up force will attack river.  All reinforcements will arrive south of the river supported by all tanks.  While the German and Russian tanks fight it out the infantry will attack up into the hills and overwhelm the German units.  That clears the way for the Russians north of the river to methodically attack the Germans and take the bridge. "

Time to start rolling the dice!

 On the east edge, my force would drive towards the German defensive screen and try to tie it up and/or eliminate it. Dan force would storm the bridge and sweep everyone before them. Easier said than done of course.

Our plans seemed like they would work out...

 My objectives were the German halftracks. It was crucial to eliminate these as they posed a mobile threat to Dan's efforts.

 Dan launched his attack and went straight ahead. He managed to break the German MMG group on the left, but as he moved against them, Dave's 9-2 revealed himself on the other side of the river and let rip with the HMG. It would mow a lot of Russians down as Dave went on Rate of Fire tears every time he fired.

 My assault went pretty much as planned. I had some squads break, but more or less got the bulk of my force into position.

 Dan went into CC right off the bat and sent a 4-4-7 into close combat with 2 x 4-6-7's. It was a gutsy move that would ultimately pay off.

 My armor would surge right at one of the halftracks. The Germans stood their ground along with a 2-4-7 with an ATR.

 Dave would fire his 81mm MTR at Dan's boys. This would provoke a response and Dan's 50mm MTR fired back. And unbelievably hit and destroyed the German half-track. The first of a string of successes had begun for Dan!

 After the successful halftrack destruction, Dan turned his attention to shooting into the melee. This is always a risky move...but Dan would break both German 4-6-7's and his 4-4-7 would just smile and get ready to collect prisoners. Just like that the German force on the left was eliminated.

 Dan had done a great job of sweeping away the defenders in his sector. It looked like he would have a chance to make a rush for the bridge. Dan's 9-1 would get his boys ready to move!

 In my sector, Dave's ATR managed to immobilize my lead tank, but it in turn destroyed the halftrack and my infantry would take out the 2-4-7. They had gone down fighting. Dave's remaining halftrack picked up a squad and headed towards the bridge.

 Turn 2...a critical movement phase for the Russians. With Dave's tanks due this turn, we would only have this one chance to rush the bridge before they showed up. Dan managed to break the German 9-1 stack on the right and his boys on the left rushed the bridge. The German 9-2 and his heavy machine gun would stop the attack in its tracks. Only a single 2-3-7 managed to get near the bridge.

My Turn 2 moves would see my boys advancing along the back of the hill and up on to the hill where I could manage enough MP's to do it. At this point, Dave' forces had moved away from me faster than I could catch them. My force was mission killed.

 Turn 2 saw the arrival of the German OBA. YIKES!!!

 And it would hit Dan's boys and obliterate two hexes of Russians. It would even rubble and then set a building on fire.

 Dave's armor arrived on Turn 2 and promptly crossed the bridge and set up to defend against my armor.

 As Turn 2 ended, it was after 10:00 PM and we had been playing for 5 hours. We had been playing fast and furious...but moving a lot of counters took up most of the time. Dan and I looked at the map and the time and decided to give the concession and victory to Dave. We both felt that his successful defense through Turn 2 had pretty much wrapped up the win. Dan's boys were badly damaged with many squads KIA'd, or ELR'd. With the OBA, Armor and 9-2 HMG of death....Dan couldn't reasonably carry on his mission to reach the bridge. And as for me...well my slow moving convoy of conscripts was going to need three turns just to reach the bridge and by then, Dave's armor would be able to concentrate on me. So, we tipped our hats to Dave for an outstanding effort. His 9-2 had won the day and held the bridge.

A last look at the battle. Despite only playing 2 full turns, it felt like a full night of ASL. The losses on both sides certainly told that story. Dan and Dave had both taken nearly 50^% casualties. My force had lost a couple squads and an immobilized tank...but otherwise was pretty much intact. All in all another great Saturday of ASL.

Professor Rollwright will conclude tonight's AAR with the postgame comments from Dan and Dave.

My thanks to the good professor for joining us this evening!

Dave's Postgame Comments:

"Well the east side defense of board 60 and north of the bridge collapsed fairly quickly but took a heavy toll.  The Russian mortar got a lucky shot on my half-track 81mm mortar and flamed it...might have been the shot of the game.  It was my 9-2 and the HMG that preformed admirably getting ROF in every phase at least once, if not 2-3 times.  He was particularly effective during Defensive Fire.  I was surprised there were no Human Waves, rather the conscripts came in using Armored Assault.  My OBA came on late, but when it arrived it was accurate and effective.  North of the bridge the attack was down to just seven squads all on the west side of the bridge and my tanks arrived to save the day.  The force on the north did an good job taking prisoners and cutting off routes.  Even though Dan and Scott called it my win after two turns, I felt they had a pretty good chance of coming through the village, but it would be a long haul and it was getting late.  Overall, I thought my defense solid, just that they came at me hard and fast.  Doing so, they left my 9-2 to dominate."

Dan's Postgame Comments:

"In short the attacks was undone by the German 9-2 HMG combo.  I attacked north of the river using a flooding tactic and eliminated 7 German squads.  But lost 10 squads to the 9-2 and HMG.  When the German OBA and tanks showed up north of the river the attack broke down.

I used flooding tactics on the attack and they worked very well.  Especially coupled with my decision to take prisoners.  I ultimately captured 5.5 squads and a 9-1 leader.  This opened the way to the bridge...except for the 9-2 and HMG.  When the OBA joined in and the tanks secured the troops evaporated.

The best moment for my forces north of the river was when the 50mm MTR was able to hit the German MTR half track and destroy it.    Also taking those prisoners.  The Germans had route options for several squads would require low crawl or interdiction.  I decided not to declare no quarter and took prisoners.  Then used the guards and prisoners aggressively getting several prisoner squads reduced but also losing two guard half squads to defensive fire.  One was lost to the prisoners attacking them in CC because they broke.  Making for some fun with prisoners in the game.  

It was a great game and fun to play with friends.  It was getting late and time for a concession.  Congrats to Dave on an excellent defense."

My thanks to Dan and Dave for a great evening of 3 Player ASL. Dan and I will be back next week for a playing of ASL Scenario AP3 A Breezeless Day! See you then!

Until next week!

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