Sunday, February 5, 2023

Our Games SP229 The Devil's Congregation and J202 Down by the River

For a brief period, I've been a bit exhausted with regards to sharing my usual weekend AAR's. I was frankly a bit tired and many of the games had not inspired me. So, I took a bit of a break and did more light blogging of our games. I was headed that same path prior to last night's game. But after playing it, I found some of the old joy of the game. A great 1945 Russian Front scenario has a way of giving the best ASL experiences.  

This particular scenario would be SP229 The Devil's Congregation from Schwerpunkt Volume 20. Designed by Evan Sherry, this scenario set in 1945 Hungary as the 6th SS Panzer Army moves to relieve Budapest. This particular scenario covers the actions of the 12th SS "Hitler Jugend" Panzer Division in an engagement to take the town DEG. 

It's a fun scenario with high quality squads on both sides, along with Jagdpanthers, SU100's, and a Wirbelwind. Does it get any better than that!?!

ROAR has the scenario with 19 German wins and only 7 Russain wins. So, yeah it favors the Germans pretty heavily. Dan and I would take the game to the very last turn and a single Repair dr would determine the victor. Those 4-1/2 turns were chock full of intense armor and infantry fighting along with some very serious close combats. In short, it was a damn fun game!!!

Ground snow is in effect with no wind at start. The German Player wins at game end if there are no good order Russians in Hex 67J4 (the church), provided that there are no mobile SU100's with functional main armament on or adjacent to the road 66R5-66X5. I will say upfront, that playing this scenario just once, doesn't really allow you to figure its subtleties. I know I would do a much better job the second time around with this scenario. So, the ROAR stats of 19 Germans to 7 Russian wins have a lot to do with the Russian Player really understanding how he can win the scenario.  The German player has so many toes and so much firepower, that the temptation to just go in and hammer everything is very powerful.

So, yeah try to fight the urge to go in like a wrecking ball!!

As the defending Russians, I would command elements of the 1453rd and 1821st SU Regiments, 1st Guards Mechanized Corps. This force would consist of 3 x 6-2-8's, 4 x 4-5-8's, and 2 x 2-4-8's led by 2 x 8-1's with an HMG, LMG, ATR and 8-1 Armor Leader with 4 x SU100's.

As the attacking Germans, Dan would command elements of Panzer Aufklaeurngs Abteilung 26, 12 SS Panzer Division and elements of Schwere Panzerjaeger Abteilung 560. This force would consist of 7 x 6-5-8's and 3 x 3-4-8's led by a 9-1, 8-1, and 8-0 with 3 x LMG's, a Panzerschreck, MKIV,  2 x Jadgpanthers, 3 x Jadgpanzer IV's, a Wirbelwind and 3 x 250 Halftracks.

I elected to integrate my SU100's into my defense of the village rather than positioning them to run to the back and camp out along the road on 66. In hindsight, I should have sent at least two of them back there. I also put my HMG right up front. Another not so smart move. Overall, my defense was deficient, but the terrain is a great assist to the Russian cause in this scenario.

My 8-1 Armor Leader and 8-1 would agree on the integrated defense. Both would go down fighting.

Turn 1 German - Dan launches his assault to come around my left flank. Dan and I were both a bit off our game last night due to the work week. So Dan's envelopment attempt went a little wide, which pulled some of his force to far away from supporting the main attack. And it was really the terrain that would cause that shift away from the center. 

Turn 2 German - the fighting up to this point had been rough with a Jadgpanzer and Wirbelwind knocked out along with two of the SU100's. Dan's grenadiers advanced to contact. My far right flank SU100 would take a shot and MALF it's MA...never to be repaired which would prove to be very costly for the Russians.

My center SU100 had my 8-1 Armor Leader. He would knock a Jadpanzer IV and then see two Jadgpanthers set up on either side of him. I assumed that was game over for my SU100. But the Jagdpanthers would miss in Advancing Fire.

The Jadpanther is my personal favorite ASL AFV. Fantastic vehicle overall. It's gun is a tank killer and it's frontal armor is awesome. I love to have them and hate to face them.

I was convinced that this was my future!

A look at the German penetration at the halfway mark of the game. Dan's envelopment was taking longer than expected due the wide arc of his right wing.

Prep Fire Phase - my 8-1 Armor Leader, Sergei is preparing to die. He fires at the first Jadgpanther...SNAKES!!!  A crit hit and destroyed Jadgpanther. He then pivots and Intensive Fires on the second Jadgpanther. A hit and knocked out Jadgpanther. WHAT!?! 

I was in shock. My SU100 would get fausted moments later, but for a brief moment...I had actually won this scenario just with my style points!!!!

I would struggle to hang on in the center as Dan's armor and infantry put the squeeze on me. My ATR would knock out its first half-track, but I had no anti-tank capability beyond that. My SU100 with the MALF'd MA had to move. It started, Dan went for a faust and rolled a faust and pinned. My SU100 got away and headed the Board 66 road. If I could fix the MA, I would have a shot at winning the game.

Dan finally encircled the village and moved in to take the church.

Dan had me on the ropes.

Close Combat hell...I hate close combat, because I usually lose. and I would take in on the chin pretty good. My infantry were being eliminated a squad at a time.

My last SU100 moves back and takes position by the bridge. I just need to repair my MA.

The end came quickly in the village as Dan's grenadiers overwhelmed my survivors in the village in an orgy of violence.

On the Turn 5 Rally Phase - I would make my final MA Repair dr and roll a 6 - over and a German victory. Dan's attack had grinded forward and never lost its momentum despite the setbacks. In spite of that, had I repaired my MA and Dan's tanks not hit me, I had the chance to actually win the game. So, Russian Players keep the dual nature of the victory conditions firmly in your planning. Great win for Dan and way to keep your ELR up even with the loss of both Jadgpanthers.

My 8-1's just a trophy of Dan's victorious grenadiers.

Our second game of the weekend would be ASL Scenario J202 Down by the River. Designed by Michael Koch, this is a scenario set in Demyansk in the spring of 1942. It's a somewhat unique scenario in that the attacking Germans must reach the river banks from both sides of the river. The Russians are dug in on both sides of the river and would prove to be very tough to overcome. 

Down by the River is from the new ASL Journal 13 and didn't have any ROAR data at the time of playing and a single German victory. 

It was really fantastic to play two great back to back Russian Front Scenarios. They both had very individual flavors. I would lose both, but in general had a good time. 

Down by the River was the less fun of the two, but not because of the scenario. Dan and I had badly mismatched dice rolls. He was rolling extremely well and so low that he was nearly impossible to break. My rolls were average to bad. But when have to get results or you can't keep the momentum and move on your objectives. I felt completely useless for much of the scenario. My 9-2 with the HMG couldn't roll less than a 10, while Dan's 9-1 and HMG went on a rate of fire tear that shredded me and nearly cause me to just concede the game right then and there.

There's something about rate of fire tears that guts you when you are on the receiving end of them. I'm a pretty emotional player, which can be a huge weakness during the game. I always tell myself pregame, that I won't let the dice get to me. Sometimes I can manage that pretty well. Our previous game was a good example as dice rolls didn't swing the game against either player. Our tactics played the bigger role and the game was so much fun as a result. 

I imagine this scenario will see quite a few more playings in the coming weeks as more folks break into their Journals to play this interesting scenario.

As the defending Russians, Dan would command the 384th Rifle Division, 11th Army. His force would consist of 5 x 5-2-7's, 14 x 4-4-7's, a 2-4-8, and a 2-2-8 led by 2 x 9-0's, 2 x 9-1's, and a 7-0 with an HMG, MMG, 4 x LMG's, a 50 MTR, an ATR, 18 Mine Factors, 3 x Barb Wire, and a 45LL AT Gun.

 As the attacking Germans, I would command elements of Leichte Infanterie-Divison 8, Sturmgeschuetz-Abteilung 184 and Kampfgruppe Eicke, SS-Panzer Division 3 Totenkopf. My force would consist of 2 x 5-4-8's, 9 x 4-6-7's, 8 x SS 4-6-8's and an SS 2-4-8 led by a SS 9-2, SS 8-1, SS 8-0, 9-1, 8-1 and 8-0 with an HMG, MMG, 5 x LMG's, a Flamethrower, DC, 50 MTR and 2 x STUG's.

To win, my Germans would have to reach the river bank with 10 VP. STUG's were worth two and squads were worth 1. Officers were worth nothing. And at 2 squads would have to reach the river on both sides. I didn't like my odds in this one as Dan had mines, wire and all his squads could be entrenched. There were really no opportunities for a flank movement and board edge creeps were really not a good option...but neither was a frontal assault up the middle. UGH...sometimes the most important DR is the roll for sides.

Turn 1 German - I moved forward very cautiously...probably too cautiously given the few turns in the scenario. But I wanted to maintain some concealment.

There would be a single Close Combat with a pinned Russian half-squad. The Germans would win this first close combat. (By SSR, either side could also declare Hand-to-Hand.)

Dan would pivot his 45LL AT Gun and lose concealment. I thought he might have done that prematurely, as my STUG's would have moved in front of him. But once, I saw where the gun was, I sent both STUG's rushing to the other flank. No point in risking them needlessly.

On the west bank of the river, Dan's 9-1 and HMG would go an epic rate of fire tear, that would break a squad, kill my 8-1 and my 8-0 with a Sniper Result and leave me pretty well shaken. In one fire, I would lose two of my 3 officers on the west bank. I would also create two Heroes during that same rate of fire tear. It was that long that the same SS 4-6-8 broke twice, rolled snakes twice, went Fanatic and created two Heroes...yeah that's long rate of fire. It pretty much broke my personal ELR.

I would make some progress in Turn 4 and start to make my moves towards the river. I would pin beside a 4-4-7 with an MMG He would KIA my squad in close combat. My STUG had moved up while on the west bank, I had been broken up my machine gun fire and mines. And one of my Heroes and two squads would move up and win a close combat in the center.

I would win the center close combat, but moving between two concealed Russian units was soon to have very negative consequences.

The two concealed units were each a 5-2-7. Wasn't that special. And on the east bank, my STUG's were still in the LOS of that dang 45LL AT Gun. It would shock one of them. Back on the west bank, I would manage to break the squad manning Dan's HMG. I thought I might have a chance to win this thing yet.

I would lose both close combats in the west, but take down a 5-2-7 with me. I the east, one of my STUG's moved towards the river bank and would be immobilized by the Russian ATR that needed a 4 to hit. It was that kind of day. After the STUG immobilized, I had enough and threw in the towel and gave the concession. I was worn out beating my head against the wall and not rolling well enough to hurt Dan's defense, even as he made most of his morale checks and was generally knocking me around pretty good.

So, Dan would have weekend sweep with two wins. These were two pretty good games. I enjoyed both and particularly the Devil's Congregation. That was a fun down to the wire game. My thanks to Dan for a great ASL weekend and congrats on the wins.

NOTE: Dan had some work preparations to do this weekend, and therefore, he was not able to contribute his comments to this AAR blog post. Dan's comments will return with next week's AAR post.

That's all for this weekend's post. 

Dan and I will return next week for some old school France 1940 ASL. 

Looking forward to playing one of the larger scenarios out there!

We will see you then!

Friday, February 3, 2023

Grumble Jones February Scenario GJ117 Bridgehead at Merekula

February crept up on my quickly this year. While the scenario for February has been ready for a while now, I was stuck in Midland, TX for the past week and arrived home only today. Normally, I like to submit the new scenario on the first day of the month. But old man winter and his icy ways derailed me and left me working from a hotel room for the past four days. I was certainly glad to be home after a long drive.

I would get back home at 4:00 PM and then Dan and I would play a quick game at 5:00 PM. We played Schwerpunkt Scenario SP229 The Devil's Congregation. While, it doesn't seem to be a fair fight, we both enjoyed the scenario. But that has left me burning the midnight oil to get this post out.

This month's scenario would come from this excellent volume on SS Panzer-Aufklaerungs- Abteilung 11. This would be the second scenario that has come from this particular book.

I came across an interesting set of paragraphs regarding a failed attempt by the Soviets to land troops behind the German front at Narva. Funny how these kinds of landings seemed to have failed everyone that tried them during the war, with Anzio being perhaps the greatest example. And if memory serves, Patton made a similar attempt during the Sicily campaign, which also led to a great loss of life for no appreciable gain.

Russian General Leonid Govorov of Leningrad Front had determined to make a landing in the Gulf of Finland behind the Germans at Narva. Govorov ordered the 260th Independent Naval Infantry Brigade to make the amphibious assault into the rear of the Germans in Narva. The 260th was an elite unit specially trained for this type of assault. Twenty-six vessels would transport the 260th and land it several kilometers behind the German lines at the town of Merekula. But successful Estonian counterintelligence had predicted just such an attack and the Germans had prepared a defense. The Soviet Marines would land directly in front of German coastal artillery batteries emplaced specifically to repel just such a landing. Attempts to move up the beach and move inland into the town of Merekula were repulsed by counterattacking German and Estonian units. The Nordland grenadiers would contribute their SPW’s and a platoon of Schwimmwagens to the effort. After seven hours of hard fighting, the 517 troops of the 260th Independent Naval Brigade had been annihilated.

Sounds like a super fun scenario for the Russian in front of German heavy guns and get wiped out. Who wouldn't want to play that?? Well, me for one. I've never been a fan of slaughter scenarios. So, this scenario attempts to game the attempts by the Soviet survivors to push inland and secure a bridgehead that could be reinforced. On the German side, SS recon troops will hastily move to interdict the Soviet movement off the beach and therefore destroy any bridgehead. There will be a lot of movement in this scenario and buildings will trade hands throughout the battle. 

With any luck this scenario will give both players a flavor of that tragic February day that resulted in so many Soviet casualties. 

As always, these monthly "Basement Quality" Scenarios are offered for fun only and as a thank you to the readers of this blog.

Remember to open pictures in a new window in order to maximize the size. 

All Grumble Jones scenarios are available from the ASL Archive website. 

(Just search on Grumble Jones)