Sunday, September 13, 2020

Our Saturday Game - ASL Scenario MM62 Five-Kopeck Bridgehead


After a week off, Dan and I were back at it for some cardboard carnage. I made good use of the downtime to work on the Grumble Jones Halloween Scenario. I'm very excited about this project and look forward to releasing it in two weeks. Big shout outs to Rick Reinesch, Dan Best, Jeff Hallet, Dave Kleinschmidt, Jackson Kwan and Zoltan Grose for their assistance with this project. The ASL Community is pretty darn awesome! 

Tonight's game would be Dan's 102nd game of the 2020 and my 70th. That's a lot of ASL. As much as I truly hate's been pretty awesome from an ASL perspective. Those of used to playing ASL via VASL and/or SKYPE have had a pretty great year of ASL. Tournaments have suffered of course, but overall, it's been pretty an interesting year. And dare I say it...maybe I'm playing too much ASL!?!...Nah...that's crazy can never play too much ASL!!!

Then again...maybe you can play too much ASL...

Tonight's scenario would be selected from the March Madness Full Rulebook ASL pack. Our choice would be MM62 Five-Kopeck Bridgehead. This scenario (designed by Dan Best) is set in April or 1942 in Leningrad front. The Russians had succeeded in putting a bridgehead across the Neva River. The German response was immediate and after several days of hard fighting, the Russian bridgehead was entirely eliminated. Tonight's game would cover a night time action as the Germans worked to crush the bridgehead. Night scenarios can be an acquired taste. I enjoyed them during the Pegasus Bridge Campaign Game and also in the Fort McGregor DTO scenario. I've also gotten more comfortable playing them as often as I have lately. I do tend to forget to roll for straying, but Dan kept me in line during our game. Fortunately, I would only stray once during this scenario. This is a good time to talk dice rolls for this game as well. Dan would roll 3 snake eyes and 1 boxcar. I would roll 5 snake eyes and no boxcars. This is of course an usual ratio for me, but it certainly helped me during the game. Dan's dice would hurt him on morale checks more than any place else during the game. 

As we all know, the Russian Front represented war at its most brutal. The 900 Day Siege of Leningrad was one of the more horrible episodes of the Second World War. As a 7th grader in NE Tennessee I read a book by a young Russian girl who survived the Siege of Leningrad. It definitely left an imprint in my mind about the horrors of that time. 

Dan's scenario covers a fairly famous event in Russian history of the Second World War. The bridgehead was nicknamed "Nevsky Pyatachok" (Five-Kopeck Bridgehead) by the Russians. One of the more interesting aspects of this fight is that Vladimir Putin's father was wounded in this very battle. Putin has always shown an intense personal connection with the events of World War II and it certainly informs a lot of his world-view. 

A look at the battlefield. This is a pretty tight fight with the Russians covering a small area of the map. Of course this also funnels the Germans into some killing ground. But the dark certainly gives the Germans a chance to get in close.

As the defending Russians, Dan would command the men of the 330th Rifle Regiment, 88th Rifle Division. This force would consist of 3 x 5-2-7's, 7 x 4-4-7's, and 4 x 4-2-6's led by a 9-1 and 8-0 with an MMG and 2 x LMG's. These men would suffer from Ammo Shortage and several would be Walking Wounded. The Russians would also have 14 x Trenches, 7 x Wire, and a 1+3+5 Pillbox.

As the attacking Germans, I would command the men of the 1st Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. This force would consist of 4 x 8-3-8's and 9 x 4-6-7's led by a 9-2, 8-1, 8-0 and 7-0 with an MMG, 3 x LMG's and 3 x DC's. 

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:
"The Russian must defend the pillbox in this scenario and make sure to keep one MMC unbroken.  Since the pillbox must set up as a bunker and accessible to a trench, the Germans are going to try to clear all trenches.  With half the Russian MMC walking wounded, they are very susceptible to CC.  There are two defensive schools of thought; concentrated defense or dispersed defense.  The Russians could make 6-7 trench positions along board 7 and have the bunker at one.  Requiring the Germans to disperse their attack.  My plan will be to build a concentrated defense around board 7 Y, Z and AA rows.  With the Bunker in AA5.  The other choice is if the bunker has the CA facing the river or the land.  You can defend the bunker facing land.  But it cannot be attacked with small arms if facing the river.  I will take the 9-0 commissar in place of the 8-0 leader and have the commissar and squad and MMG in the bunker.  The bunker CA will face the land.  They can put 8 firepower on hex 7Y2 without cowering.  Hopefully this defensive firepower offsets the German return fire and keeps the attackers at bay long enough to hold out."

A look at the setups. Dan's Pillbox is set up, but keep in mind, I was not aware of its actual location. This placement was based on an educated guess and as it turned out, that was exactly where the Pillbox was located. 

With the mud, movement was a bit of a slog for my boys in the early part of the game. Fortunately only one stack would stray in the darkness.

Dan's boys would stay quiet and concealed as my boys crept towards their line.

I would move into position to storm the trenches as quickly as possible. Time was definitely not on my side. In fact, Dan remarked that he thought I moved a little too slow in the opening turns. I can't disagree. My recommendation is for the German player to move with a purpose early on. You will need that time to deal with the Pillbox all the way in the back.

The early turns moved pretty fast as Dan largely held his fire and kept concealment. 

 A look at the German positions after three movement phases. 

Lots of Close Combat. Dan and I would split a few of these.

My 8-3-8's were leading the way.

I would snake one of the close combats, create an 8-1 leader and then infiltrate onto the road. This would be a huge help in getting me in position to battle the main Russian trench line.

 A look at the Russian positions. 

Close combat continued to rage as my boys got into the Russian Trenches.

Time was running out and despite my success in clearing the Russian trenches, I was worried that I wouldn't have enough time to to clear the final trench line leading to the Pillbox. 

My boys were getting ready for the final phase of the operation.

There were two disrupted Russian 4-2-6's which I  had left behind in the trenches. We would have to mop them up later. For this scenario, they were mission killed. The rest of my boys ran forward and into the last trench line. A DC was thrown, but wouldn't have any result.

A look at the final Russian line. We were heading into Turn 7 and there were three Russian positions to deal with.

Luck was with me as I succeeded in breaking the final Russians in the Prep Fire Phase. Once all the Russians are broken, it's an immediate German win. German firepower really made the difference in this game. And a key thing to remember as the German Player, is that you just gotta keep pushing and putting as much fire down on the Russians as possible. Breaking your opponent will win this game for you, so don't throw in the towel in too early. 

My boys would round up all the Russian prisoners and secure the bridgehead. It had been a good day for the Reich. My thanks to Dan for a great scenario design and fun game. Night games can be tricky, but this one turned into a fun game.  I had some assistance from Dan during the game. He pointed out some good moves that would definitely help my Germans keep rolling. Dan and I play friendly games and I can't tell you how much I enjoy that fact. I couldn't play 70 tournament style games and enjoy this hobby. It's great to play for fun and win or lose enjoy a great night of ASL. A game should be fun first and foremost. Thankfully ASL is just that!

Never hurts to get a little assistance from the scenario designer!!!

 And now for Dan's Post-Game Comments:

"The plan did not work.  The Germans were able to break the squad in the pillbox and win when the last Russian MMC broke.  The Germans did a good job concentrating their attack from the north side and clearing the trench lines in CC.  Plus using their DCs to break the units in the last trenches.  Well played by Grumble Jones!  With good use of dummy stacks and the assault engineers.  Congrats on a good win.  This little night battle is fun with several options for the defender.  Look forward to seeing if a dispersed defense works better.  Thanks for the great game."

Dan and I will return next Saturday
 for a playing of 
ASL Scenario 99 Probing Layforce.

We will see you then!


  1. I like night games; on a note on dice; I recently in a single turn of my BRT CGI I managed to roll 11 sets of snake eyes, but since I have the Marines it helps to get rolls like that otherwise it would be a blood bath; far from a morale loser for the Japs ( Larry Yeager, he managed to hit 4 sets of boxcars knocking out one MMG and malf 3 other MGs...Dice can be the 800 lb gorilla in the ASL Room.

  2. 11 snakes...holy cow...!!! I agree, dice rolls can make or break some games in spite of good tactics.