For our most recent game, Dan Best and I found ourselves in the early days of ASL, when scenarios were few and you played 'em whether they were balanced or not...cause it was all you had!! This of course brings me to a discussion of our latest game, which would be ASL Scenario 44 - The Gauntlet. I had played this one eons ago when I first began playing ASL. I was the Germans then and I lost it as I struggled to remove a roadblock in time to get my boys bused off the north board edge. I didn't succeed. Norwegian 4-3-7's can be a lot harder to eliminate than you would imagine...especially when there are 18 squads of them.
The Gauntlet is in The Last Hurrah module and Dan and I would play the 2nd edition version. ROAR has this scenario with 15 German and 43 Norwegian wins. The ASL Archive has it with 4 German and 3 Norwegian wins. ROAR paints a picture of pro-Norwegian balance. Dan and I normally never use the balance in a scenario, particularly if it is the first time playing a scenario. As this was my second time, I had bad memories of struggling to get through the Gauntlet as the Germans. And as luck would have it, I would play the Germans again this time. So having said all that, I will recommend in favor of using the German balance. The ability to move off road without penalty is essential if the Germans are going to have a reasonable chance off success.
Tonight's scenario would be my 51st game of 2020, which is just amazing. A good year used to be 24 games...but now I'm succeeding in getting over 50 annually. I'm certainly on track to beat last year's record of 61 games.
If you are like me (and for your sake I hope not!!!), this is what you think of when hear The Gauntlet. I think this was one of the final Dirty Harry movies and was actually a lot of fun to watch. I'm not sure it has survived the test of time, but in its day, it was a fun movie! And since there will be buses involved in today's game...it's a little bit appropriate!
The Gauntlet takes place in 1940 Norway. The German invasion is underway the Norwegian Royal Family is a target. Earlier this same day, the Germans had successfully captured Danish King Christian. Their next target would be King Haakon of Norway.
Tipped off regarding German intentions, King Haakon rushed north from Oslo towards Norwegian Army HQ in Hamar. Norwegian reservists answering the peels of church bells were rallied together to create roadblocks along the Hamar-Elverum Road to slow of stop any German pursuit.
The Germans realizing that King Haakon was on the run took action. Two companies of Fallschirmjaeger at the Olso airport were placed on Norwegian buses and quickly sent in pursuit of the Norwegian King.
Historically, the Norwegians succeeded in killing German Captain Spiller who was the engine behind the German effort. With his leadership gone, the Germans decided the capture of King Haakon wasn't quite worth the additional loss of life and so returned to Oslo. King Haakon would eventually make it to England to lead the Norwegian government in exile.
The battle space for today's scenario.
As mentioned earlier, I would command the men of the German Fallschirmjaeger-Regiment-1, Flieger Division 7. This force would consist of 12 x 5-4-8's led by a 9-2, 8-1, and 2 x 8-0's with 4 LMG's, 6 x Schoolbuses and one Kubelwagen. To win the game I would have to exit 17 VP off the north board edge. The buses would suffer from poor off road capability, so would be likely to bog if they left the road....especially if I'm the one rolling the dice. Personally 12 squads is not enough to cover the battlefield and dominate a well spread out and concealed opposing force of 18 squads.
Dan would have the good fortune to command the Norwegians of the Ad-Hoc Command of Reservists and Citizen Volunteers. This force would consist of 18 x 4-3-7's led by a 9-2, 8-0, and 7-0 with 3 x LMG's and 2 roadblocks. This force would suffer from a 2 ELR and disruptions would be rampant as the game progressed. Dan would lose roughly 8 squads during the fight and the Germans would lose approximately 2 squads.
“The Norwegians have to prevent the Germans from exiting off the north edge of board 2. The roadblocks will set up in 2W1 blocking the V1 hex side and 11Y10 blocking the Y9 hex side. The Norwegians can deploy two squads and will to create more defense in depth. They will set up with no stacks even with the 9-2. The leaders will set up with the LMGs. With the 9-2 in 2R2 to get a shot at vehicles moving along the road. Being green and with an ELR of 2 many Norwegians will disrupt and be mission killed. The plan will be to have a triple canopy of Norwegian positions for the Germans to attack through. Hopefully breaking through the canopy will delay the Germans long enough to prevent exit.”
Turn 1 - the Germans roll on to the map and quickly disembark from the buses. I'm sure there is also some debate in this scenario of when you should exit the buses. Looking back on the game now, I would have stayed on the buses and gone up to the Board 11 hill rather than attacking across the Board 2 Hill. One of the reasons I did not do that this time around was because that was exactly what I did the first time I played and lost this scenario. I didn't repeat that ending.
Sorry kids...we need to borrow your bus to kidnap your King...we'll bring it right back!!
Turn 2 - the first two turns were pretty quiet. I tend to be overly conservative and spent two turns getting into position. I would run my Kubelwagen forward to draw enemy fire and to locate the roadblocks. It did both tasks and survived!!!
Great job fellas!!
I sent 4 x 2-3-8's to probe around Dan's western flank. There were two real squads over there, but I felt like I could handle it. Meanwhile, my 9-2 scaled the heights to get a better view of the action. My 8-1 and 8-0's would drive up the middle.
My half-squad adventure down the west side would be less than brilliant on my part. Dan's 4-3-7's were tough. I struggled to break Dan's squads throughout the game. When I did, ELR and disruption would occur and Dan would have a hard time rallying. But that initial break did not always come easy.
Overall, Dan got good service out of his 4-3-7's and had enough of them to absorb the losses inflicted by the hard hitting German Paras.
At the end of turn 3, I was still hung up in the middle. I was very risk averse in this game. Dan was rolling a lot of 3's and 4's, which if I got caught moving in the open would be disastrous. So I moved slowly...a bit too slowly as time would tell.
Can't exit the board if you're doing this all game...
On the west, Dan would do a surprising thing...his 4-3-7 in the building had pretty much tied up my three half-squads..but then the 4-3-7 attempted to leave and would get caught in the open by an LMG directed by my 9-2 over on the level 3 hill. I would break and disrupt them.
Not much was escaping the notice of my 9-2.
Dan's 9-2 would make a move and be spotted by 9-2, who would manage to wound him.
My LMG's would do pretty well in this game.
Dan's 9-2 would hold onto the first roadblock pretty tenaciously despite being wounded.
There I was playing ASL...when my opponent rolled snake eyes and changed the game...yep...I managed to break Dan's 4-3-7 at the hedge line with my 2-3-8's...but the broken squad would roll snakes...rally and then go berserk. It would be a jarring moment for me.
My buses set off again as I moved them closer to the action...but not too close.
I repositioned my 2-3-8's to await the charge of the berserk 4-3-7 in the next turn. I made a tragic error in putting two of my squads adjacent to one another.
Dan's berserker would survive all my shots despite -2 moving in the open and then break and eliminate a 2-3-8 in Advancing Fire Phase and Rout Phase. With his berserk status ended...it then moved into CC with the remaining 2-3-8 and destroyed it in CC. Yeah...these are the moments in ASL when you just cringe. A conscript squad successfully moves in the open despite the fire of three German half-squads...survives and then destroys two of the three half-squads and essentially ends my actions on the side of the battle. Not complaining...but dice seem not to favor me at various times in the game.
Our dice tracker for this game showed 3 snakes for both Dan and I, 5 x 11's for Dan and 5 x 11's for me and 3 x 12's for Dan and only 1 x 12 for me. I would consider a one boxcars night a good one.
Dan's sniper would show up often as I rolled a lot of 5's. It would immobilize one of my buses along the road.
With time running out and resigning myself that I was not going to win the scenario, I sent all my buses on a cross country excursion and of course bogged two trucks as they left the road. Honestly, my favorite roll is a 10...so I should not even have tempted fate...cause I was going to lose that battle and did. Despite some difficulties here and there, I did manage to break and eliminate Dan's force on the east flank. The way was open. But Dan was hustling his boys to cover the north board edge. The Gauntlet was definitely in place.
I didn't like my chances for getting through Dan's gauntlet.
A last look at my progress at Turn 8. With only a single movement phase remaining...there was little hope of exiting enough of my boys for the win. I would have to risk too many moves in the open and the loss of even a single squad would have resulted in defeat. So I gave Dan the concession and congratulated him on a good win. His defense in depth was the key to victory as my paratroops couldn't deal enough damage to punch throught he Norwegian defenses.
Dan's boys would celebrate a great win and savor the success of ensuring King Haakon's escape!
My boys would wait for the school bus ride back to Oslo.
And now for Dan's Post-Game Comments:
“The plan worked. Aided by one Norwegian squad going berserk and taking out a German squad on the board 11 flank. Also, the dummy counters all absorbed German firepower. The Norwegians were able to keep positions of units in front of the Germans until turn 8. When the German count of units that could exit in the remaining movement was below the 17 VP needed to win. This scenario is hard on the Germans who must be hyper aggressive and pass morale checks to win. My thanks to Grumble Jones for another great game of classic ASL.”
June is now ending and the next stop is July...or Gettysburg Month as I like to think of it! While my ancestors fought in the 48th Virginia and 26th North Carolina, I still have a soft spot for Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. With this in mind, Dan and I will not be playing next Saturday as it the 4th of July. However, we will be playing next Wednesday - Scenario MM45 Platamon Castle and then on Friday - Scenario RB4 - To the Rescue - that's right Red Factories will be on the table to kick of your 4th of July Celebration!
We will see you then!