Sunday, September 20, 2020

Our Saturday Game - ASL Scenario 99 - Probing Layforce


Cool evening breezes are bringing the first hints of Fall. I look forward to Autumn each year. My absolute favorite season. Of course this season like all of them in 2020 will be muted. Life feels like a paused movie...that never seems to resume. We are all of us living through times, which will be the studied history of future generations. Hopefully, advances in our medical knowledge will make it difficult for them to understand how we felt and what we experienced in the year of COVID-19. Oh how I hope it is that way. 

It's Friday  night as I type this and my heart is heavy tonight with news of loss, family issues and a sister-in-law whose cancer has returned and more vicious than previously. The prognosis is not good. a pit bull refuses to relinquish its grip on our throat.  And I missed playing ASL tonight due to some last minute work issues that came up at 2:00 PM. Seems like Friday afternoon is a favorite time for Murphy's Law to rear its ugly head. 

Now you might wonder about blogging a day early. Well, I do it frequently to give myself a head start on the blog AAR. As these AAR's often take between 5 and 8 hours to complete....a head start is important as I don't always enjoy spending my entire Sunday afternoon in front of the computer. So as I type the beginning of the AAR blog post, I have no idea how the game will unfold tomorrow night. I've been sitting here looking over my defense (I'm the British tomorrow). Lately, I have really sucked as the British. I mean my record is just dismal lately.  ROAR has this scenario (the A43 version) with 23 British and 4 German wins. The ASL Archive has that same version with 2  British and 0 German wins. might be good to be the British tomorrow!!!

This scenario - Probing Layforce first appeared as A43 in the ASL Annual 92. I played it back in the 1995 and won as the British. 

The scenario covers the actions of the British Layforce Battalion, which along with Australians attempted to slow the southward advance of the Germans mountain troops across Crete.

The terrain and a stubborn British & Australian defense would halt the German advance. Of course this would only be temporary as the British continued their retreat to the south coast of Crete and onto the ships, which would take them to Libya and Egypt. 

As the defending British, I would command the men of the Battalion D Layforce and remnants of 2/8th Australian Battalion. My force would consist of 7 x 6-4-8's, 4 x 4-2-8's, and a 2-4-8 led by a 9-2, 2 x 9-1's, and a n 8-1 with an MMG, 4 x LMG's, a Matlida Tank and 5 Sangars.

As the attacking Germans, Dan would command the men of the II Battalion, Gebirgsjaeger Regiment 85. This force would consist of 16 x 4-6-8's and 4 x 2-4-8's led by a 9-2, 2 x 8-1's and 2 x 8-0's with an HMG, MMMG, 5 x LMG's, 2 x MTR's, 2 x ATR's and 80mm OBA.

So Dan and I wondered at the ROAR stats for this scenario. How do the Germans not win this one with the force they have??? We both thought that the Germans should be able to win this one given the quantity and quality of their troops. Well...we would soon understand.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Germans must cross the three board playing area and have 17 EVP on board 9 western half at game end.  They have a strong force of 18 elite squads to accomplish this.  They also outrange the British especially in support weapons.  My plan is for the 9-2 with two squads and the HMG and MMG to move up to level 3 on board two and use this firebase to suppress the British infantry.  Along with them will be an 8-0 with the radio and two HS with 50mm MTRs.  The plan will be to ignore the British tank and target infantry.  While the German infantry move into the building on board 15.  Once in the buildings the 9-2 and 8-0 will move up to the hills on board 15 and further suppress British infantry.  The on the last turn the German infantry will move out of the building and on to board 9.  Since the British tank cannot leave the road without bogging it should not be able to seriously disrupt the German infantry.  Hopefully the Germans will win the long range shootout between the 9-2 leaders."

You will notice the old hardboards for tonight's game. I don't currently own a SK version map of Board 15. I've tried to order one from MMP,  but it's been out of stock for quite some time. It's the only board that I don't have in the new version. So went with the hardboards and deferred to Dan's setup for LOS. If it was open or blocked on his boards, that was the final decision. And yes, there are differences. Some shots I thought were blocked on Board 15 were open on Dan's Board 15. I believe I'll get the updated version when my King and Country arrives. The blue box represents the victory location zone for the Germans. If Dan could get 17 or more VP into that area he would win the game. Now note that this is 3 less than the A43 version of the scenario. The British also get one less 6-4-8. Range would be a killer for me, but I would take every long range shot I could.

My Matilda was restricted to the road. If I crossed a non-road hex side of failed to use the road movement rate, I would automatically bog. So my tank was positioned in the center and I never left the road and of course only moved when I was CE.

Dan would move in a tight Schwerpunkt towards the middle. I would take some long shots (1 factor LMG) with  -3's against some of Dan's moving stacks. I would get some early breaks as a result.

My 3 upfront Bren  Gunners would carry my defense.

Getting breaks early is always important. Slowing down your attacker, especially in a 10 turn game. (Avalon Hill...why such long scenarios...??)

A look at Dan's mega stack on Hill 621. Dan's mortars and HMG and MMG were all moving up the the level 3 hill in order to prepare a fire base that would clear my boys off the hills to the south.

Dan finally begin to split up his forces with the heavy weapons teams moving to the top of Hill 621 and then one group moving south and another moving west to go around Hill 621 and come at me along the west edge.

Dan got his heavy weapons on the top of Hill 621. I put a lot of fire down on Dan's 9-2 with the MMG and HMG, but couldn't break them.

After three turns, Dan was in position to support the advance of his two wings. 

Dan's 9-2 would direct a kill stack with 2 squads an HMG and an MMG. But Dan would struggle the entire game to get rate of fire with this group. In fact, he would only get rate near the end of the game, where it would do some serious damage to my boys, but it was too late to the affect the game's outcome. Dan rarely ever gets exasperated about his dice (especially compared to me...I whine early and often.) But tonight, Dan did vent some frustration over the failure to get rate. 

Dan would roll 6 snake eyes tonight though and one would be devastating to me as you shall see. I too would roll a snakes that would result in 3 KIA's against a stack. Dan would roll 5 boxcars and I would roll 4 snakes and 8 boxcars...not the kind of ratio that gives you good outcomes.

The Hill 621 Fire Team in action. Mortar rounds began to fall on my positions as the mg's raked my exposed boys on the hills. Dan's 8-0 with the Radio and 80mm OBA was also now on the hill.

My 9-1 in the very center would see his squad die, but he would become Heroic and go on to wound 4 times before finally dying. He absorbed a huge amount of German fire and successfully used his LMG to cause no little irritation to Dan's Gebirgsjaegers caught moving in the open.

As the Germans extended their advance, I would suffer some bad consequences. My 9-1 with an LMG team to the east would roll 3 boxcars and be completely wiped out.

It does feel like that sometimes in ASL when bad things continue to happen to the same stack. I guess it was just their time!!

The Arty spotting round missed its target and landed next to my Matilda. I was holding on on board 15.

My 9-1 on the far east hill had broken his LMG and would fail to fix it and finally destroy it...

Dan's first 80mm FFE would land and not hit anybody...whew...that's was close!!!

Dan continued to move onto Board 15. I had boys holding the hills and I was sending other boys to the backside of the hill settle in the stone buildings. Dan and I both felt that this village behind the hill was going to be a key part of the battle.

My MMG and 8-1  had been doing a pretty good job despite their long range from the action. With 2 factor shots at -3, they had inflicted some losses on the Germans. But Dan's OBA would get his revenge for him. Dan would snake the 80mm hit and my 8-1, MMG, 4-5-8 and Sanger would all be vaporized. Man was this a tough blow to my defense.

But things turn on a dime in ASL. Dan's next attempt at Radio Contact would be 12 and then Dan would 6 the Radio into oblivion on the next Rally Phase. Just like that the Arty was gone.

"Looks like Jerry's out of luck with the ol' mortar barragery!!!"

I had lost some of my defensive strength with my 9-2 dead on the field, 2 x LMG's out of action and my MMG gone. I had also suffered some squad losses, which I could ill afford against Dan's more sizable force. On the east flank, I got aggressive and sent my 9-1 and his 6-4-8 onto Board 2 to eliminated some of the German brokies. I would eliminate a 2-4-7...but it would be costly later.

My bold 9-1 in the east would be chopped down by Dan's 9-2 kill stack that finally found its rate of fire. Dan also began assaulting my positions in the center. 

I would force Dan's grenadiers back on the west edge, but Heroic 9-1 would finally die and my 6-4-8 in the center would be eliminated in Close Combat. Up on the east edge, Dan would attempt to Dash a squad with an ATR into an open hex. I cried foul and said I didn't think you could perform a Dash into an open ground hex. Dan argued that since I had a hindrance of +1 to that open ground hex that it was not open ground. I voiced my dissent to this argument and we consulted the rules.

Dan and I rarely disagree on a rule and have to do a deeper dive into the old ASL Tome. But this was one of those occasions. We determined that the Dash could not be conducted because regardless of an LOS hindrance, the end location was still open ground. (I leave it to you Rules Lawyers out there to weigh in, if we got this wrong.)

As we began Turn 8, Dan went silent and was busy counting his available VP for making it to the designated victory zone on Board 9. Rather than roll the Turn 8 Wind Change, Dan said, "Okay...that's it, I concede." We did a brief discussion of whether or not that was the right decision. It was 10:30 and we had been at it for a hard five and a half hours. After reviewing, it was clear that Dan had 15 of the 17 VP within striking distance of getting to the zone. Another 12 were still on Board 2 and very nearly mission killed. So the math was against a German victory and therefore Dan gave the concession.

We both found the scenario to be a bit of an attrition slogging match with too many turns. And we were both surprised at how tough the scenario really is for the Germans. Dan had done a good job of controlling the battlefield from his Hill 621 fire base, but I had created my second line out of sight of the Germans. They would have to move into the open and face my 6-4-8's at close range on the back side of the Board 15 hill in order to win the game. So good fortune was with me tonight and I got the win.

My boys could contemplate their success on the boat to Egypt. My thanks to Dan for a fun night of ASL. It was exhausting, but still some great ASL.

And now for Dan's Post-Game Comments:

"The plan did not work.  Mostly due to some excellent shooting by the British and the Germans inability to get rate on the HMG/MMG combo for over 4 turns.  It also helped when a British 9-1 went heroic and survived 4 or more fire attacks by the HMG/MMG combo plus MTR fire.  Grumble Jones got in some very good hits on the Germans moving in stacks and by turn 7 still had controls of the buildings on board 15.  The Germans were out of time and troops.  Well played by Grumble Jones for the win!"


Well...that's a wrap on the last AAR for the Summer of 2020. It's been a remarkable summer of ASL. Halloween is just around the corner and the Annual Grumble Jones Halloween Scenario will be available soon.

Dan and I will return next Saturday 

for a playing of 

Scenario LFT 88 - Das Untergang!

We will see you then!

No comments:

Post a Comment