For our Saturday Game, Dan Best and I decided to play a scenario from the Operation Veritable Historical CG. Our selection would be ASL Scenario HS17 Water Foul. This would be my first opportunity to play something from Operation Veritable. Like a lot of folks, I tend to shy away from scenarios involving water landings, but this scenario looked very manageable and with Dan's help, I was able to "navigate" my way through the rules. This would be my 50th scenario of 2018.There was a time, when I couldn't have imagined playing 50 scenarios in a single year. And now I have played 50 or more in two consecutive years. Much of this is due to the opportunity to play Dan each weekend. Having a reliable opponent with a keen interest to play every weekend is a great thing!
Huh...not fifty cent...Fifty Scenarios!! I often heard it said that to really become good at ASL you have to play around 50 games a year. That may be true for some...but I imagine I need more than 50!!!
All kidding aside, I definitely find my game mechanics improving. I attack with more confidence and less trepidation than I did in the past. I use half-squads in the advance more than every before and I have learned how to build a wall of residual fire that has served me well in many a game.
ASL Scenario HS17 -Water Foul (designed by Ken Dunn) depicts the events of the Canadian assault on German positions in the area of Niel, Germany. Niel rests near the German-Dutch border. In 1945, it had been flooded after the Germans had disabled Rhine River flood controls. A view of Niel today makes it hard to imagine this area completely flooded in February 1945.
In addition to water rules, this scenario also takes place at night, but with all hexes under illumination it was easier to play than many other night scenarios.
ROAR has this scenario with 7 German wins and 7 Canadian wins. The ASL Archive has it with 1 German win and 1 Canadian win. So...this would appear to be a balanced scenario...but the complexity of this scenario with waterborne landings and night rules would make it more likely to be played by veteran players. That said, I personally think this one makes a great introductory scenario to both water and night rules.
After rolling for sides, Dan would be the Germans and command elements of the 84th Infantry Division. The 84th was severely mauled in the Normandy Campaign with nearly 5500 of its men lost in rearguard actions at Falaise. By the time of Operation Veritable, the Division had been rebuilt. As a static coastal type division, its platoons were heavily equipped with KAR 98's with MG42 Platoons. As had been the case in Normandy, the division was heavily supplied with Panzerfausts. Other anti-tanks assets would be sorely lacking. Dan's force would consist of 4 x 4-4-7's, 5 x 4-3-6's, a 2-2-8, led by an 8-1, 2 x 7-0's, with an MMG, 2 x LMG's, a Panzerschreck and 37L AT Gun. And their ELR would be '1'. Talk about a brittle force. Dan's 4-3-6's would disrupt each time they broke. A '1' ELR is simply unforgiving. Dan would face a challenging task to hold off Canadian 4-5-8's.
As the attacking Canadians, I would command elements of the 1st Canadian Scottish Regiment, 7th Infantry Brigade and 79th Armoured Division. The Canadian Scottish Regiment has a storied history. It would earn battle honors throughout the First World War and would earn honors for the Normandy, Rhineland, and Northwest Germany Campaigns of the Second World War. My force would consist of 12 x 4-5-8's, a 2-4-8, led by a 9-1, 8-1, and 7-0 with 4 x LMG's, a 51 MTR, and a Piat with 4 x Buffalos and 4 x DUKW's. My force would start the scenario in their amphibious vehicles and entering from the west board edge behind a smoke screen filling an entire hex row from north to south.
The victory conditions were very simple (and yes Vitus...I read them closely!!!). The Canadians would win immediately upon controlling all buildings. With only six turns of game play, I would have to move with a purpose!
And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:
For the Germans the key to this scenario is getting some kills on vehicles, especially before the infantry unload. Once the Canadians get into the buildings the fighting will be hard for the Germans with the lower morale and with the low ELR there will not be many rallies. The German set up will defend the larger island. The set up will be that every hex with buildings will have a squad adjacent to use PFs on any landing vehicles. The open area will be covered by the AT gun and the MMG to lay a fire lane. The PSK will be in the center hex to shoot between the buildings. With an average of two squads in each vehicle any kill has a chance of stopping some infantry. Finally on the smaller island a conscript will deploy to defend the upper level of each building hex. Hopefully they will distract more troops than a single squad.
My attack plan was divided into three parts. I knew Dan would have a few boys HIP and the 37L AT Gun was a real threat. I needed to get on land as soon as possible. My Buffalos were heavily armed and would make great mobile foxholes for my boys. Of course the danger was that my infantry could take big losses if Dan's Panzerfausts connected and destroyed my Buffalos and DUKW's while they were still loaded with squads. It would be a calculate risk on my part.
I would send one group towards the far island and another single DUKW towards the southern end of the big island. The remainder of my force would make for the open beach.
My initial moves would be met with very little German response. Only in the south would the Germans unload on me.
Panzerfausts would be my biggest concern.
Dan would take out the DUKW, but my boys would make the crew survival and move into Close Combat!
Dan's dice woes would come early and often. He would MALF an LMG, his MMG, and his 37L AT Gun. His Panzerfaust checks would result mostly in no PF or in his unit being Pinned. For much of the game I felt like Dan was facing two opponents...my Canadians and his dice.
Dan's 8-1 with the MMG would unload on my boys, but I would manage to survive.
In the south, Dan would pin my squad and send a 4-3-6 into Close Combat. More Melees would be the result.
Dan's boys would come at me throughout the game.
My sniper would play a critical role in the game. On two occasions, my sniper would DM German squads locked in Melee. I would then eliminate those squads when they tried to withdraw from Melee.
As I always say..."never underestimate the value of the sniper".
Turn 3 - I landed on the small island and found that two 2-3-6's were hidden in the building.
On the main island, I had pushed the Germans back from their mainline and was coming up from the south as well.
The Melee in the center continued...much to my ongoing dismay.
Dan's 7-0 had no illusions about his situation.
A final look at the battle. With all the Germans eliminated, my Canadians were free to take control of all the buildings and win the game. We had completed four turns. And for the most part, the scenario had been very tough on Dan's Germans. With just a bit better rolls, Dan might have been able to inflict some serious damage on my Canadians and possibly retain control of a few buildings. But it wasn't meant to be and my Canadians had the win.
My assessment of the nights gaming was mixed. I thought the scenario was a good one and presented a lot of new tactical challenges. I took a ton of risks and was not punished due to Dan's unlucky dice. Historically the Canadians were dealt some hard blows due to Panzerfausts. I would lose two vehicles to Panzerfausts, but these did not affect my infantry, which were the key asset on my side.
For the Germans, I think the '1' ELR may be a bit too harsh. A 4-3-6 has a hard enough life as it is, but to be disrupted the first time it breaks is pretty brutal. But that's ASL. As always, my thanks to Dan for a great night of ASL. Win or lose, playing ASL always makes for a great day!
And now for Dan's Post-Game Comments:
While the plan worked it was undone by terrible dice rolls. 8 missed PF shots with 3 pin results. The 8 PFs that did shoot only one hit. With more damage from backblast including another 2 pins and one broke. The AT gun, PSK, MMG and one LMG all broke on second shots (first for PSK) and none were fixed. Going into CC was not a good result for the Germans as the Canadian sniper twice fired into the melee and broke the Germans. It was all over by turn 4 with the last German unit aggressively going into CC concealed and losing. Good game attack by the Canadians and another victory for Grumblejones! Looking forward to our next game.
With the holidays fast approaching and work related challenges affecting both Dan and I...we appear to have at least one more Saturday game remaining for 2018. It's been a fantastic year of ASL...just amazing...but I'll highlight 2018 in another blog post. The December Scenario is done and is a big one...so get ready!
For our last Saturday Game of 2018, Dan I are planning to play a scenario from Lone Canucks' Bloody Buron CG. Zoot Suit Boys will be the scenario and a fitting scenario to close out the year.
Thanks everyone for following our ASL exploits over the past year!