SL Scenario 109 was released as part of the SL Series 100 scenario pack. As I have mentioned in past blog posts, this pack was released to supplement the original Cross of Iron scenarios. With so few scenarios available in those early days, this scenario pack was gobbled up and my gaming circle quickly played through them all. Counterattack on the Vistula was one the favorites from the pack and I'm certain that we played it a number of times until ASL arrived on the scene. So needless to say, I was pleased when Dan suggested that we play this scenario next. I have not yet played the ASL version, so I was curious how it would play out versus what I remember of it from the COI days.
The scenario takes place in the early days of August 1944. It's always amazed me to think that Operation Bagration was literally coming to a halt at the Vistula River. In less than two months of fighting the Germans had been completely thrown out of Soviet Russia. Sometimes, I think we fail to fully comprehend the totality of success enjoyed by the Russian in Operation Bagration. And it's equally interesting to ponder how differently Bagration might have gone down, had more high quality panzer divisions been available. The dual whammy of Operation Bagration hitting only weeks after the Normandy landings ensured that the Russian Front would not be reinforced by the Panzer Divisions in Normandy such as the 2nd, 1st SS, 2nd SS, 9th SS, 10th SS, 12th SS, 17SS, 21st, 116th, and Panzer Lehr. This scenario does a great job of showing the power of a division like the Hermann Goering Division. Personally, I'm of the opinion that Bagration would have been far less successful had the Germans had more of the high quality Panzer Divisions available. Just my two cents sitting here in my armchair.
After rolling for sides, Dan Best would be the Russians and assume the defense. He would command elements of the 220th Guards Rifle Regiment, 79th Guards Rifle Division and 3rd Tank Corps. Dans force would consist of
The men of the 79th Guard Rifle Division had been formed from the remnants of the 248th Rifle Division and awarded the Guards designation for their stalwart performance during the fighting for Stalingrad. They would Orders of Lenin, The Red Banner, Suvorov, and Bogdan Khmelnitsky. They would finish the war in Berlin. Bad ass fighters to the bone.
As the scenario attacker, I would command elements of the Hermann Goehring Panzer Division. My force would consist of
The Hermann Goering Division, while an elite formation was one of those formations created to serve the vanity of one of the Third Reich's most vain leaders. One of the things, which would hamstring the German military was this kind silliness that was peculiar to the forces of the Third Reich. A Luftwaffe Panzer Division was one of the sillier things done by the Third Reich. But this Panzer Division would amass a remarkable combat record and prove that despite its Luftwaffe upbringing, would perform as well or better than many other Wehrmacht Panzer Divisions.
Like so many of the old SL and COI scenarios, this one utilizes Board 4 and 5. This of course is no surprise because at the time of its release there were only 5 boards. As we contemplate 83 released boards today...it may be hard to imagine a time when there were only 5 boards. Of course the genius of SL and ASL was the ability to orientate the boards into so many configurations...that you could enjoy playing on the same boards for years....decades...and possibly CENTURIES!!! Gotta love this game.
ROAR has this scenario as 12 Russian Wins and 10 German Wins. The ASL Archive shows 10 Russian Wins and 6 German Wins with 1 Draw. Despite having two King Tigers, this scenario does seem to favor the Russians.
The scenario objectives are straightforward. By game end the German player must control Building 4P6 and hexes 5Y8 and 5Z9. Ahhh….but there's a catch...they have to do this without suffering 24 Casualty CVP. Having a couple of King Tigers can sometimes give the possessing player a sense of invulnerability...but don't be fooled...this is a tough scenario for the German player.
And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:
This scenarios looks like a good fun late war east front fight. The Russians are good troops with a few panzerfausts to keep the German tanks at bay. Although it must be admitted nothing can stop these new King Tigers from the front. My strategy is to defend both victory areas but use mostly 6-2-8 infantry around the bridges to fight from inside the gully or along the woods road hex. More defenses will be around the victory building. I will place the AT gun up front in hopes of a side or rear shot on the Tigers. Mostly to keep the Germans tanks from point blank fire. I will also set the 9-1 and HMG in the upper level to keep his infantry under fire across the grain fields. Hopefully by making the fight tough we can out last the Germans with our high morale and tenacious defense.
I was pretty confident in my attack plan. I was going to hit the farmhouse location first and with all of my strength. I was going to send my trucks through the woods as a distraction. Dan's Russians had up to 4 Panzerfausts in addition to 2 x ATR's and a 57LL AT Gun. I would move very aggressively on Turn 1, with the idea that I could quickly put pressure on his force at the farmhouse. Well...that was my plan...I did have King Tigers...what could go wrong!?!
Did I mention that I had King Tigers?? My opponent should simply concede upon seeing them!!!
Turn 1 - my ride of the Valkyries begins!!!
Well...it's all fun and games until the HIP AT Gun shows up....I hate those things!!!
Dan's AT Gun would get rate...do some intensive fire and ultimately destroy three of my half-tracks and kill 2 x 5-4-8's and a 7-0. Just like that Dan had 21 CVP...in the first turn. So yeah....I could only lose three more for the next 8 turns.
Dan would go on to MALF the AT Gun in his Prep-Fire Intensive Fire...but it had done its job and by itself taken down 21 CVP. Pretty darn impressive.
Turn 2 --- might as well go for broke right...so I sent everyone right at the farmhouse.
Yeah...I like that...
Dan's 9-1 with the HMG on level one would go after my lead half-track...but only get a stun. In advancing fire I'd roll snakes with a King Tiger MA shot and then a 1...so critical hit, which would break the 9-1 and KIA the 4-5-8 and HMG. Ok...that was some heroic kind of stuff!
Ok...as my part of Turn 2 ended, I had made some progress. The AT-Gun was MALF'd the crew had routed away. The HMG was gone and the 9-1 was broken and routed. And I still had 3 CVP left in my cap.
Yeah...I think I will!!
Drats...forgot I was playing Dan Best...who never sits back and waits for you to attack. So his Russians quickly counter-attacked and swarmed the farmhouse. UGH!!!!
I had left my truck in motion...with a plan to send them forward when the rest of my force made its way to east...bad call on my part....as Dan decided to go after them. Why not...2 more easy CVP. Yep...what was I thinking...
"Hey Dmitri...I've got dibs on the first truck and you can have the second one...ok?" "Da, Anatoli...one for each of us!!!"
Oh...and Dan never misses an opportunity to jump into close combat. Yep...I was in big trouble. But then a bit of a miracle. Dan's 4-5-8 that went after my stunned half-track would roll a 12 and suffer casualty reduction and them be locked in Melee with my 2-3-8 in the hex. I had dodged a bullet. And the other CC would also end in Melee. I was still alive!!!
Was I aiming too high!?!
Turn 3 -- my half-tracks beat a hasty retreat and both of Dan's ATR shots miss...whew...that was lucky.
But Dan would shoot into the Melees...(he always does that...) and managed to break my squad. He then blew up another one of my trucks...doggone that Dmitri...and then he KIA'd my broken squad as it tried to withdraw from Melee...so Dan had 25 CVP and the win. 2-1/2 turns...yikes...did I ever blow that game...
(I'm a life long Cowboys fan...so it's ok to poke some fun at my boys!)
That did not go as expected. The AT gun turned out to be in the right place to kill half tracks. Killing three half tracks with two squads and the 7-0 leader (newly ELR reduce to a 6+1). This was a total of 20 CVP with the crews. Surprisingly close to the CVP cap. Turn 2 saw one half squad go down and a truck. Then in turn 3 the other truck and finally a German squad in CC. It was surprising how fast the CVP pilled up with the half tracks. I think the secret for the Russians it to concentrate on killing everything except the Tigers. The Germans are brittle with casualties. With 22 CVP in infantry. It is infantry that must control the buildings. The more infantry you kill the harder it will be for the Germans. I forgot all about the CVP cap in my pre-game planning. But it went fast with the AT gun targeting the half tracks.
My thanks to Dan for a great night of ASL! Congrats on a great win!
Dan and I will back next Saturday for a playing of ASL Scenario 3 - The Czerniakow Bridgehead. See you then!