Sunday, July 26, 2020

Our Friday and Saturday Games! MM44 Cassel Defense and G18 GOYA.

Well, will you look that!!! Dan and I got in another double-header weekend. My regular Friday opponent in St. Louis had to cancel at the last minute, so I emailed Dan and before you can click the SKYPE button, we were playing a Friday battle! Dan suggested that we play Scenario MM44 Cassel Defense from the 2018 March Madness Players Pack. This was a great idea as Cassel Defense was the only one I had left to play from the Players Pack. So I was definitely looking forward to playing 100% of that pack. I definitely have a soft spot for the Players Pack as it was the first one to publish any of my scenarios. 

MM44 Cassel Defense was designed by Mark Fischer, who I enjoy seeing from time to time at March Madness and who is a much valued fan of this blog. So Mark, I hope Dan and I did justice to your excellent scenario!

Set in Cassel France, in May of 1940, this scenario depicts the gallant stand of the 2nd Glosters Rifle Regiment as they tried to half the advance of the German 6th Panzer Division. Their defense was crucial to protecting the beaches at Dunkirk. The Luftwaffe would drop leaflets on the Glosters imploring them to lay down their weapons. Glosters being Glosters, they just got more determined to hold the line. They would buy the time the BEF needed to evacuate. But sadly, when they got the order to fall back to the beaches, it was too late and the survivors would be captured.

ROAR has this scenario with 1 German and 0 British wins and the ASL Archive has it with 2 British and 0 German wins. 

 A good map showing the German positions and interesting to note that the attacks were from the south. I have always have an east - west orientation to my own thinking about these events. So it was educational for me to see where the German Panzer Divisions were actually concentrated.

A good view of Cassel's position relative to the entire defensive perimeter.

Thought this was an interesting set of Dunkirk stats.

A view of the terrain at Cassel. 

Location of Cassel in case we ever get to visit Europe again in my life-time!!!

The battle space for our Friday game.  The British would set up on the north hill, while the Germans enter from the south. The game is 6-1/2 turns long and the Germans need every bit of it.

And now for a quick movie discussion. If you have not seen the 1958 Dunkirk movie, I highly recommend it. It's pretty good.

If you saw this Dunkirk movie...well...I'm sorry you had to go through that. True story, I haven't been to the movies since I saw this movie in 2017. Yeah...I haven't been to a movie theater in three years now. Honestly, nothing that I wanted to sit in a theater to see. Kinda sad really. And this movie...I hated that too strong? I'd rather sit through Atonement again for the brief Dunkirk scenes in that movie then sit through another viewing of Dunkirk. Of course this is just my  opinion and if you enjoyed it, all the power to you.

As the defending British, I would command the men of Co. B 2nd Glosters Rifle Regiment and 145th Brigade AT Company along with Cheshire Regiment Composite Machine Guns. This unit would trace its history back to the 1600's and would see action everywhere it seems until they paraded for the final time in 1994 with more battle honors on their flag than any other regiment of the line. 

These boys would trace their lineage all the way to Quatre Bras and be depicted in my all-time favorite military painting. I use the painting above on my desktop at work as it covers two giant desktop screens quite brilliantly. The only time it raised eyebrows was during a meeting with folks from Pratt-Whitney Canada...French Canadians I might add. Good times!!! 

My force would consist of 4 x 4-5-7's, a 2-2-8,  a Hero and 3 x 2-4-8's led by a 9-1 and 3 x 7-0's with an MMG and 2 x ATR's. For support I would have one 25LL AT Gun, 3 x Roadblocks and 10 x Wire to protect my hilltop position. Out in front by themselves would be an 8-0 and 4-5-7 with an MMG. I would set them up HIP.

And on Turn 3, I would get reinforcements  of 2 x 4-5-7's led by an 8-1 with an MMG.

The victory conditions were focused on points for the buildings on the hill. The player with the most victory points at game end would win the game.

As the scenario attacker, Dan would command the men of Kampgruppe von Esebeck consisting of the 11th Panzer Regiment, 6th Panzer Division and 29th Motorized Infantry. The 6th Panzer Division would serve throughout the war with early service in France and then finishing the war on the Eastern Front before surrendering in Czechoslovakia to the Americans before being handed over the Soviets. 

This force would consist of 3 x 4-6-8's, 11 x 4-6-7's, and a 2-2-8 led by a 9-2,  2 x 9-1's, an 8-1, and 2 x 8-0's with 2 x MMG's, 4 x LMG's, 4 x DC's and a dismantled 81 MTR in a wagon. Armor support would consist of 3 x Panzer 35t's, 2 x 221 Armored Cards with a 9-1 Armor Leader. The infantry would also have 4 x Trucks and 4 x Motor Cycles for the mobility needed to cover the large amount of ground leading up to the British positions.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:
“The Germans must move very fast in this scenario.  The plan is to use the armored cars to scout out the fortifications while the tanks support the infantry with armored assault.  The MTR will set up and fire smoke to support the attack across the open plowed fields into the village.  Hopefully the armored cars can get into the village and cut rout paths while the infantry can cross the open ground.”

A view of the battlefield. This scenario covers a lot of ground and was difficult to photograph tonight. My boys on Board 33 were HIP and waiting to ambush the Germans as best they could. My AT Gun was in a building out front of the hill. I placed my wire and roadblocks to keep the Germans from easily entering the village. 

My HIP boys waited anxiously for the game to begin.

 Dan's forces would enter from the south and from the west. 

 A look at my defenses. I only had 5-1/2 squads to hold this hill. 

"Sir...the leaflets say that we are surrounded!!" 
"Laddie... ye can't be believing everything you read. "

Here they come! Dan's motorcycle gang came rumbling down the road. His armored cars would rush up and try to draw fire as they probed my defense to reveal the roadblocks and wire. I held my fire. I wanted the tanks and didn't want Dan to sacrifice an armored car and create Russian smoke in front of my gun. Dan would lose a single squad to my HIP units on Board 33, before he would overwhelm and force them to rout.

Dan did a great job with the armored cars. My ATR's fired away, but I couldn't penetrate.

 I finally opened up with my AT-Gun. I would destroy a Panzer 35t and my Rate of Fire tear would be about seven shots in a row. I even targeted the Wagon hauling the 81 MTR and got a critical hit...on a freaking wagon!!! It would be vaporized.

I would roll a whole lot of snake eyes tonight. And it felt GOOD!!! I would roll 6 snakes and 1 boxcars. Dan would roll 4 snakes and 1 boxcars. And might I say...good rolls make a big difference in game outcome. Just say'n.

 My boys on Board 33 would finally be surrounded and taken prisoner.

 Dan continued to move forward. 

 The Armored cars would drive me crazy. I couldn't knock them out.

 Dan would also roll snakes at opportune moments. Back to back snakes would battle harden a 9-1 to a 9-2 and cause the squad to go berserk. They would not survive the experience.

I had to stop them as they were headed for my AT Gun and had a DC. It took nearly all of my D-Fire, but I got 'em!!!

 My gun's survival would allow me to take down another one of the Panzer 35t's. 

 My reinforcements would arrive at the end of Turn 3. 

"Glad to see you Lads!"

Turn 4 - Dan sent his last tank forward to take out the wire. I got a critical hit with an ATR and a blazing wreck would bring about the end of the game. Dan had lost all of his tanks, his mortar, all of his 4-6-8's and a couple 4-6-7's. And he still had to cross the open ground to get to the hill and the victory locations. We had been playing for 4 hours and after a long day of work, we were both wore out. So Dan gave the concession and the British would get the win. I was pretty surprise myself. I was down to a single unbroken 4-5-7 in the village. My reinforcements were on the way, but Dan's armored cars were in my backfield. It was probably a lot closer game than Dan may have felt when he gave the concession. But my dice were hot all night. He was not able to safely move in the open against me in this game, which he normally can do as my dice are usually pretty bad. But tonight the dice gods were kind.

My boys had held the line and allowed Dunkirk more time to evacuate.

And now for Dan's Post-Game Comments:
“The plan did not work.  The British AT gun was able to knock out two tanks and an ATR got a third.  The infantry assault fell apart under the none cowering British rifle fire.  This scenario plays fast and hard with the Germans taking the hard knocks in this match.  My thanks to Grumble Jones for a great game!”

Looks like we're ready for Round 2....

You know it baby!!!

For our Saturday game, I would choose an old scenario that I got from an issue of the General...a looong time ago. Don't you miss the 1990's...I sure do...I didn't even have email until 1996. Work stayed at work back in those days and didn't shadow every waking moment of your life. No boss emails me at all hours of any day. Lots of folks treat work as their hobby. That's why spreading the joy of playing ASL is so important. My best boss in Tulsa was a gamer (Playstation and Star Wars stuff). I sure do miss him! I'm one of those people who works to live and not lives to work. It sucks that you sacrifice five days to enjoy days a week. After36 years in the hamster wheel...I'm ready to get off.

So for the weekend's round two game, I picked G18 GOYA. The name should be familiar as GOYA is in the news these days. So it just seemed  perfect and fits my political sense of humor! Sometimes we have to laugh...cause we're too big for cyring.

GOYA takes place in the snow covered forests and pastures of Belgium in January 1945. On January 7th, the US 551st Parachute Infantry were ordered to secure Rochelinval. But getting there would require crossing open ground covered in a foot of snow. And naturally, there would be Germans...there are always Germans...cause Japanese would seem odd....

The 551st suffered heavy losses , but succeeded in taking the village. Our playing of this scenario would follow the historical outcome very well.

ROAR has the scenario 8 German and 12 American wins. The ASL Archive has it with 3 German and 2 American wins. It seems to be balanced, but when you see the OOB's you'll wonder about that.  I know I did.

A product endorsement that we can all get behind!

Only map I could find of actions around Rochelinval and these pre-date the scenario.

The battle space for GOYA.

Dan would have the honor of commanding the men of the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion. They would serve independently with the 82n Airborne during the fight for Trois Ponts. They started the campaign with 800 men and by January were reduced to 250 actives. On January 7th, they were given orders to take Rochelinval. To do so they would be forced to cross open ground under without artillery support. Their commander, Lt. Col. Wood Joerg would argue fiercely against making the assault, but to no avail. They would lose half their force taking Rochelinval including Lt. Col. Joerg who would be killed leading the assault. 

GOYA stands for "Get off your Ass" and was a fitting motto for a unit that never wavered in attack. Following the fight for Rochelinval, the 551st would be rolled into replacements for the 82nd Airborne. The 551st's  fight at Rochelinval would be its last as an independent unti.

Dan's force would consist of 20 x 7-4-7's (yes 20) and 6 x 3-3-7's, and 3 x 2-2-7's led by a 10-2, 9-1, and 2 x 8-1's with 2 x MMG's, 3 x Bazookas and 3 x 81mm Mortars. A very substantial force. I cannot recall another battle where 20 x 7-4-7's would be utilized.

As the defending Germans, I would command the grenadiers of the 183rd Volksgrenadier Regiment. This lackluster force would consist of 10 x 4-4-7's, and 10 x 4-3-6's led by a 9-1, 8-1, and 2 x 8-0's with 2 x MMG's, 4 x LMG's, and 2 x 50 MTR's. So...let me get this straight. I have try and stop 23 squads of 7-4-7's with 10 2nd line and 10 conscript squads. Wow...what were they smoking when they made this scenario???

Falling snow would occur during a wind change DR of 10 or more...and of course it would start snowing during the scenario. Winter camouflage would be available to the Germans as would bore sighting for all support weapons. The scenario would also be 10-1/2 turns long...which is just crazy. The Americans could take their sweet time in this scenario.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:
“The Americans must charge across the open fields and capture two buildings on board 23.  I will use the WP in the MTRs to try to blind the MG squads.  I will also deploy three squads to have a screen of HS.  The HS job is to get around the Germans and cut rout paths.  The Americans will take prisoners.  The 10-2 will lead two squads with two MMG into the upper level of the multi-hex building on board 16 to try to lay some suppressive fire.  Hopefully the MTRs get rate and multiple WP shots to keep the MGs from doing too much damage.”

A look at my defense and bore sighted hexes for my machine guns and mortars. I would only get to use one of them. It's like a lot of things in ASL...they work great against me...but rarely for me. 

Dan's forces would gather at the base of the hill. His three mortars were be at level 2 locations ready to hit me with Willy Pete....which is always better than Pete's Willy...but I digress. Dan would deploy three squads, so he would send 12 half-squads at me. Oh good grief...the logistics of moving so many squads would definitely slow down the game and really force me to think closely about who to shoot out. I would limit my shots to 7-4-7's as much as possible.

"Karl-heinz...what do you see? Are the Amis coming?" "Ja...I see them...there are too many of them." "Shall we concede now?" "Nein...let's wait until at least turn 5."

Dan's mortars would lead off the attack. He would get one WP hit on an LMG position and the squad would break. Woohoo... but his next two attempts would fail and the one attempt that succeeded was the last available WP. So Dan would only get one smoke shell for the entire scenario. Overall Dan  would be disappointed in his mortars. He would go on to break two of them and then X them out with '6's on the repair rolls. But despite these difficulties, his center mortar would go on a rate tear and take down three positions in the center of my line and open the gate for his boys. So...the mortars were entirely unproductive.

Dan's boys would head off into the open ground. I would inflict some losses and a few breaks, but overall the Americans made decent progress.

Turn 1 advance...only 9-1/2 movement phases left!!! Should reach Berlin by then...

 I would move my guys in response to Dan's attack. 

Turn 2 would see the mortar rate of fire just rake my center and open me up like a can of beans...

Dan's boys knew the line had been broken!!!

Dan would also take the first of many prisoners. By game end, Dan would capture 6-1/2 squads and an officer. My boys were all too happy to put the war behind them.

The Americans had made it to my main line of resistance and it would now be time for my boys to fall back to the two objective buildings. We would now have to separate fights going on as we wrestled for control of the objective buildings.

I was broken...disrupted....captured or dead all along the line. 

Dan pressed forward and would begin splitting his forces to attack the two objective buildings.

By this stage, my forces were definitely split apart. From here on, they would have to hold out separately. 

Dan's boys began moving towards the objectives. I wasn't doing much to impede their progress.

The battle for the church was unfolding in slow motion. Dan was grinding me down a turn at a time.

At the school, I was doing a much better job of constructing a defense. But the10-2 Lt. Col Joerg was with this group and he had both US MMG's with him.

But disaster in ASL is always just a roll away. Dan's 10-2 would be killed in the next fire phase. And just like that the fight for the school looked to be going in favor of the Germans.

But Dan would also create a hero in that stack...who would pick up the slack for the fallen Lt. Col. Joerg. Strange how closely this scenario was following the actual history of the battle.

Dan's boys were putting down some huge fire on my boys in the school. 

Back at the church, my lines were collapsing. Only a single 4-3-6 was left.

They would do their best to hang on to the church.

And incredibly they would eliminate the first Americans to enter the church in close combat. How about that!!!

A little celebration was in order....

I would be equally successful in the school as I managed to eliminate the 7-4-7 that had boldly dared to enter our sanctuary.

Back at the church...the pews were filling up intrepid 4-3-6 managed to DM a 7-4-7...but the end was coming.

Back at the school, Dan and I were trading volleys.

So it was 10:30 PM...Dan and I had been playing for over 5 hours and had finished 6 turns. Tell me again why the Americans need 10-1/2 turns for this scenario. And my wife was wanting to go on our regular evening walk. Sooo...I was needing to expedite the game's finish. Dan had broken my 4-3-6 at the Church and I was down to just three unbroken squads in the school. So with that I gave the concession and Dan had the win. It had been a long and grinding battle. I always hate throwing in the towel too early, but given the math, Dan had more than enough men and time to take down the school. So it was clearly an American win. My congrats to Dan on a great win. And again, I marvel at how well this scenario matched up to the historical outcome. Kudos to the scenario designer for getting it right. That said...10-1/2 turns is silly. 

And now for Dan's Post-Game Comments:   
“The plan worked.  Although it was not helped by the MTRs.  Once the Americans get into the buildings their higher firepower and ELR really starts to tell.  They also have all the time needed, with 11 movement phases.  Although they have only four leaders for the 23 squads of troops, so rally of troops was always a problem.  This scenario is old school design with plenty of squads and plenty of turns. The extra time makes it hard on the Germans.  My thanks to Grumble Jones for a great game of ASL!”

Dan's boys had won the day...but the cost had been tremendous. Lt. Col. Joerg dead on the field and Dan had lost the following: 11 x 7-4-7's, 2 x 81 MTR's, the 9-1 and 2 x Bazookas. The Germans lost 8 x 4-4-7's and 7 x 4-3-6's of which 6-1/2 of this grouping were captured. Additionally, an 8-1 and 8-0 captured. I had also lost an MMG, 2 x LMG's and 2 x MTR's. It had been a bloody scenario by any measure.
Dice Rolls for both games" Dan would roll 14 snake eyes and 10 x 12's. I would roll 9 snake eyes and 4 boxcars. Ten of Dan's snake eyes would occur in GOYA. 

This AAR is dedicated to the memory of Lt. Col. Wood Joerg,

Dan and I will be back next Saturday for a playing of ASL Scenario 50 Age-Old Foes.

We will see you then!

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