Well...here we are again for another "Our Saturday Game". Tonight's game would be a fast playing and bloody affair as Dan and I battled for control of Authie. Dan and I had attempted to play a Friday evening game, but both of us were just too tired from the week to do more than talk about ASL and of course the stresses of COVID-19 that are plaguing (pun intended) both of our work lives. Yep,,,I had hoped to start tonight's AAR COVID free...but life had different plans. My company experienced yet another mass infection this week as nearly twenty workers either tested positive or were quarantined due to direct exposure to those who were infected. In response, my own department emptied again as folks headed to the house to work from there. Having an office, I spent the week working on site and feeling a loneliness that I have almost never experienced at work. Having moved so often in my work life, I often find myself with no friends or family where I live. Therefore, my co-workers become my "family" if you will. So sitting in silence in an empty department day after day has certainly weighed on me. And in worse news...the rising tide of infections here has filled every ICU bed. Ain't no more room at the inn...so they will start sending folks to other area hospitals. Suffice to say...trying to relax your mind and play some ASL isn't always easy these days.
I blog it often enough...but it bears repeating...that we are living in momentous times. COVID-19 is going to leave in indelible mark on human society. We will emerge from this darkness eventually, but for now the journey to a safer place and time continues...
Our game tonight would come from Jim McLeod's Elite Canadians pack. I had not played anything directly from this pack, so was glad to have the opportunity.
Overrun covers relatively familiar ground with the fighting in Normandy. Specifically, this scenario involves the June 7th actions at Authie as the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade dug in and found themselves the focus of the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitler Jugend's" first action of the campaign. With almost reckless ferocity, the Panzer Grenadiers surged through the grain fields and went toe to toe with the tough Canadians.
The bloody fighting at Authie would only be a precursor to the bitter fighting that would follow for the next two months.
This scenario (designed by Jim McLeod) shows 11 SS and 3 Canadian wins on ROAR and the ASL Archive shows it with 5 SS and 2 Canadian wins. Sooo....the prevailing thought would be that this scenario is fairly pro-German. One of the running jokes between Dan and I is that the most important roll in any game is for sides. Get the wrong side in a scenario and it goes a long way to determining who wins and who loses. Lately, Dan has been getting the "wrong" side in many of our games. Tonight would be no exception.
To win the game Dan would have to have an unbroken MMC/Mobile AFV with functioning MA within 2 hexes of N10.
As the attacking Germans, I would command the men of the 25th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment, 12th SS "Hitler Jugend" Division. This force would consist of 12 x 5-4-8's, and 2 x 2-3-8's led by a 9-2, 2 x 9-1's, and an 8-1 with 2 x MMG's, and 6 x LMG's with 8 x MK IV's. My boys would also be fanatic...fanatic SS...FREAKING AWESOME!!!
And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:
"The Canadians are outnumbered by 30% in squads and two to one in tanks. The plan will be to form a tight defensive perimeter to defend the village. The firefly will set up hull down and bore site the board edge. Another tank will be in a mutually supporting hull down position. The other tanks will cover the right flank and be in position to contest the German tanks entering the village. The two MTR will be one on each flan and bore site the paths through the woods. The MMGs, each with a -1 leader will set up to cover the roads entering the village. The PIATs will be in the second line. Hopefully the German tanks will try to move in to cut route paths and allow for PIAT tank hunting. Hopefully Canadians can inflict some attrition on the Germans outside the village making the Germans low on firepower inside the village for the street fight."
Dan's defense was concentrated as expected. I correctly deduced the location of the Sherman Firefly and one of the MMG's...but honestly that was no big feat as they were the obvious best placements for those things. The one thing I continually forget is Bore Sighting...and Dan would use it effectively against me.
"Hey Eddie...what are you writing down there in your journal?" "Oh this...this is where I'm bore sighting some stuff to give Grumble Jones some serious butt hurt!!! Ha ha ha ha...
I attacked towards the southwest. Since I figured the Firefly was watching all the open ground to the north...I thought it best to avoid that area. I did sent one MKIV up there to position itself to lay smoke in support of my assault on the village. Just one problem...the only woods hex in that area effectively blocked my shot...AIEAIEEIEIEIE....
"Fritz...why did Uwe park his MKIV where it can't see anything...I mean really that guy is just a clown...even in Russia...he was always in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Dan's mortar would go on a rate tear and break two squads. And his first Sherman would send some shells towards me.
Turn 1 movement phase went ok for the Germans.
Turn 2 - things were a little less rosy for me as I began my part of Turn 2. Dan's dice had been hot and back to back snake eyes had seen a MKIV brewed up and a 5-4-8 KIA'd. Dan had also sent a Sherman out to enfilade my center schwerpunkt. I would lose another MKIV to that excellent move.
I would successfully make some smoke in two locations and my grenadiers would move swiftly into the edge of the village. I had also knocked out the first of Dan's Shermans and the mortar crew had to abandon the position due to the smoke.
My dice woes in the early part of the game were many. Dan's dice had been hot with snakes, rates of fire and he was doing great with Intensive Fire. I sent three squads and an -1 officer into melee with Dan's 9-1 and a 4-5-8. Slam dunk right....nope...I rolled boxcars...Dan would use that opportunity to move out of the melee.
"Wow...that was a close one boys..."
Turn 3 - I continued to press the attack. Things started to go my way as we entered this turn. Dan would MALF a Sherman that intensive fired and his boys were starting to miss morale checks. My fanatic SS Grenadiers were difficult to stop.
A look at the German penetration into the village.
Dan's Turn 3 would see a lot of movement. I had managed to destroy the last two Shermans, which forced the Firefly to relocate. I had pushed the Canadians away from victory location. In fact, at this point in the game only one good order Canadian MMC or tank was within two hexes of the victory location.
At this time, I still had 5 of my MKIV's left, but one was in Melee and would be destroyed when it started up to move.
The Firefly would take down his third tank. But I would send three tanks and a panzerfaust team to try and take it down.
As my grenadiers secured control of the village, my boys sent rounds at the Sherman Firefly...but to no avail. I had decided to take prisoners in this game and that would be a huge factor in my win as I would capture 7 squads and one officer.
As Turn 4 ended, I had lost another MKIV to the Firefly but another MKIV had shocked it and then the Panzerfaust team took it out. The circled Canadians had broken and would soon be prisoners. With that Dan gave the concession and my Grenadiers had the win. Dan had destroyed 6 of my 8 MKIV's, but all the Canadian tanks were gone and the Canadian infantry were all but eliminated. Very tough fight for the Canadians. Fanatic SS are never easy to stop and the combination of good cover and high firepower really gave the Germans an unstoppable edge. My thanks to Dan for a fun game. Our dice rolls would give Dan 3 snake eyes and no boxcars and I would roll 3 snakes and 4 boxcars.
And now for Dan's Post-Game comments:
"The plan did not work. The German approach through the grain and orchards allowed for village entry with minimal casualties. Good use of smoke and taking of prisoners allowed the Germans to clear the village. With high firepower in the village the Canadians were breaking and with route paths cut by tanks, they surrendered. By turn 5 the Germans had lost six tanks and one squad and one leader. But had 7 squads of prisoners. The Germans being fanatic gives them a serious morale advantage when in the street fight. Well played by Grumble Jones in using smoke and cutting route to take prisoners. Congrats on the win!"
It was a solid win for the SS Panzergrenadiers, but it would seem that this scenario is just a bit too hard on the Canadians. Dan and I both believe this scenario might be better if the Germans are not fanatic. This one advantage kept my boys from pinning and breaking. With all the available cover, it was tough for Dan to get effective hits on my advancing SS.
Dan and I will return next week for a Friday-Saturday double-header playing of ASL Scenarios 201 and 202 Hunters from the Sky and Hitdorf on the Rhine. Looking forward to both games and relaxing during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I sincerely wish each of you and your families the best Thanksgiving celebration that is possible this year. We are learning this year how much we value our time with family and friends. Many of us will not be spending this Thanksgiving with family members in the hope that this year's sacrifice ensures future Thanksgiving gatherings. I know this is not easy and it will be bit lonelier for my own family as we stay home this year and dont' go to Alabama for the first time in over a decade. So my wish for all of us is a safe holiday and the hope that this time next year...we'll be sitting together around the table.
Have a safe and happy holiday season...and if you get bored with Turkey or football...well there's always a Grumble Jones AAR to fill that void.