Sunday, February 28, 2021

Our Games - ASL Scenario J20 - The Guns of NARO, ASL Scenario 231 Into the Storm and ASL Scenario J23 Kampfgruppe at Karachev

 Another week...another 3 scenarios played....a fella could get used to this whole "laid-off" thing...except for no there's that... Dan Best and I would knock out three games this week, which is pretty sweet! I'm going to change things up for this AAR and start with the Saturday game and then work backwards to the Friday and Wednesday games. So grab some snacks and a beverage....cause we got some bloggin' to do. Our journey will take us from Russia to France and finally to Sicily. We picked three really fun scenarios to play and each of them was a nice, combined actions affair. So are you ready for some hard hitting....dice your face rallying ASL!?!

Patton's ready!!!

Two of our three scenarios this week would come from the ASL Journal 2. I must say that this one of my favorite journals. Lots of good scenarios and great tactical ideas and analysis. 

Our Saturday game would be ASL Scenario J23 Kampfgruppe at Karachev. Designed by Vic Provost, this scenario depicts the fighting at the tail end of the Operation Citadel. With the attack, called off, the Germans were suddenly hard on the defensive as the Russians launched their counterstrikes. 

In this scenario, elements of the Grossdeutschland Division try to halt a Soviet probing attack. The Victory conditions for this scenario are read them closely. I of course did  not...because...well that's what I do. Anyway, the Russians have three options for choose wisely.

One of the most interesting aspects of the fighting around Karachev is that the Grossdeutschland was there at all. The Grossdeutschland was moved from the southern sector all the way to the northern sector. And I would be surprised to learn of any other units similarly moved. 

As I stated previously, the Russian Player has three options for achieving victory, 1) exit 32 VP, 2) eliminate 25 German CVP, and finally 3) control all the buildings in the German set up zone as long as you don't lose 38 CVP. I would begin the game with an exit strategy and then at mid-game pivot and go for the 25 CVP. I didn't read through the entire victory conditions and failed to realize that I could take the buildings. If I play this again as the Russians...I'm going for the buildings.

As the defending Germans, Dan would command the grenadiers of the Grossdeutschland Division. I believe we are all of us familiar with the GD and their well documented contributions to the Wehrmacht's actions on the Russian Front. The GD was so named due to the fact that it's personnel were initially volunteers from all over Germany rather than restricted to a single Wehrkreis as was customary for other Heer formations. It was in Operation Citadel where the division would become more widely known and utilized as a mobile fire brigade to stabilize the lines or plug breaches. The division was kept well equipped both with replacements as well as weapons and armor. And the division has its own photographic/propaganda unit, which documented the activities of the GD to a degree not associated with other Wehrmacht divisions. This is useful for blogging as pictures of the GD are generally easy to find. Dan's force would consist of 2 x 5-4-8's, 5 x 4-6-8's, 2 x 2-4-8's and a 2-2-8 led by a 9-1, 8-1, and 8-0 with an HMG, MMG, 2 x LMG's and a 50 MTR. For support, Dan would have 2 x Daisy Chains and a 75L AT Gun. On Turn 4, Dan would also get reinforcements of 2 x 8-3-8's led by an 8-1 with an LMG and 2 x DC's along with a nice Stug...cause who doesn't love living the STUG LIFE!!!!

As the attacking Russians, I would command the men of the 31st Guards Infantry Division. This force would consist of 2 x 6-2-8's and 10 x 4-5-8's led by a 9-2 and 2 x 8-0's with a 50 CAL HMG, 3 x LMG's, 2 x DC's and 4 x T-34/85's with a 9-1 Armor Leader. 

My force was adequate, but I really hated my restricted entry point. The Russian Player must prepare to get hit hard as soon as he emerged from the wood shrouded roads. I generally perform poorly as the short I suck as the Russians. My win-loss record as the Russians is abysmal. Dan, on the other hand really rocks it as the Russians. So...a little foreshadowing of what is to come!!

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Germans must defend the village and keep the Russians from exiting.  The Russians and Germans also have a CVP cap.  The plan will be for a defense centered on the village with the AT gun defending the rear side of the village to prevent exit from hex 32B1 with a bore site on the road in B5.  This battle field is claustrophobic with no clear fields of fire.  The 50mm MTR with HS will set up in 32A4 to pepper the woods with air bursts.  The 5-4-8 squads will set up in 32E3 and 32C4 for daisy chain and street fighting possibilities and the 9-1 will set up with the heavy and squad in 32F4 for a fire lane down to 37BB3.  The 8-1 will set up in 32D1 with the MMG and squad to cover the flank.  While 32C1 and 32E5 have a squad LMG each.  The 8-0 will set up in 32C3 with the last squad.  the last HS will Set up on the flank of 37FF3 to prevent sneaking around for an exit.  The dummies' will screen in the woods.  Hopefully the Russians can be delayed until the reinforcement arrive to stop exit."

My plan such as it was involved moving down the forest road and then sending my armor towards the A6 hex exit. My infantry would go both right and left to put down fire as needed and then advance as the opportunity presented itself. I would move a bit too cautiously for the first three turns.

Turn 1 would pass quickly as I moved slowly through the woods and Dan held his fire.

Turn 2 would pass quickly as well. Dan's upfront units were dummys.

Dan's 8-1, 9-1 and 8-0 had put together a solid plan and their grenadiers were disciplined and would wait for the right moment to strike.

At the end of Turn 2, I was in a good position to move towards the exit.

Dan's grenadiers were staying concealed and waiting.

Turn 3 and it was game on!!! 

My boys would get a good Close Combat kill against Dan's 9-1, 4-6-8 and the HMG. I would kill him and he would kill me. But another 4-6-8 would go into close combat with a CX unit and kill it and then end up in Melee with another squad. That 4-6-8 would kill another squad and a half before going down. This Melee and my subsequent losses would hurt my personal ELR. I needed a 7 or less and kept rolling 10's while Dan was casualty reducing my boys. Such a total bummer. And worse...I let this setback disrupt my entire game plan. 

As I moved in Turn 4, Dan would throw daisy chains across the road. I would evade one of them, but another T-34/76 would be immobilized. 


So as my part of Turn 4 came to an end, I was reeling from the loss off my first T-34 and the fact the German 75L AT Gun had appeared and was preparing to destroy a second T-34. My exit plan was unraveling.

Turn 4 German - Dan's reinforcements roll on. His 8-3-8's would meet with disaster. One would be casualty reduced, broken and then eliminated. The other would be broken and then forced to surrender. Dan's Stug would come on and begin sending rounds at my two center T-34's.

By Turn 5, I had lost two T-34's with a third immobilized. At this point, I gave up on the exit strategy and decided to go for the 25 CVP. With my many prisoners, I was sitting at around 20 CVP. Dan was also sitting at 20 CVP of my 38 CVP cap. 

This was the last picture I took. Dan and both had experienced a lot of frustration with poor dice rolls that were dragging the game out. We would play all the way to the end, but the game really ended at the conclusion of Turn 5. My poor dice rolling was not going to get me the 5 more CVP I needed. I managed to immobilize the Stug and Dan then X'd out the MA in intensive fire. Dan and I both used intensive fire every chance we got, because our rolls were not generating any results.  Dan would also go on a rate tear with his mortar, MMG and AT Gun. He would break my boys and kill my prisoners, which reduce me to 18 I was going backwards and not forwards on the CVP. I sent a 6-2-8 with a DC twice at Dan's immobilized Stug, but failed both times. With the second failure and out of turns...I gave the concession. Dan had the win! I congratulated Dan on a good win through a game that became a bit of drudgery when neither of us could get the rolls necessary for decisive results. So of the three games, this was the least fun. It's a good scenario and has some good replay capability due to the Russian choices for victory conditions. I think I would have played a better game had I just gone for buildings where breaks would have been as good as kills. 

Dan's grenadiers would prove that the Grossdeutschland truly was the Fuehrer's Fire Brigade.

And now for Dan's Post Game Comments:

"The plan worked.  The scenario degenerated into a battle of bad dice.  With both sides doing poorly until turn 5 when the Germans went on a rate tare with weapons that broke up the Russian assault groups.  The Russians wen for German CVP cap and almost got there with prisoners.  But on the rate tare the prisoners suffered casualties and in turn 7 the StuG survived for the German win.  The scenario was a real cripple fight with terrible dice rolls and each side not able to muster a good solution.  The result was frustration for both sides.  The scenario is a fun design and hopefully play with better dice will result in less frustration for the players.  My thanks to Grumble Jones for playing through to the end!"

And now for Our Friday Game!

Our Friday game would be ASL Scenario 231n front of the Storm. Designed by Curt Schilling, this scenario depicts an engagement early in the invasion of France. In this scenario, a German glider force has landed with the objective to hold the bridge near Aessen. Equipped with a 37L AT Gun, the German commander, Oberleutnant Hedderich deployed his men and awaited a French counterattack.

Historically, Hedderich would stop one counterattack, but a second with tanks would prove too much for his force to hold back. The bridge would be recaptured by the French...if only briefly.

I personally have always enjoyed playing the French. I have had great success when playing the French. This game would be no exception as I would have phenomenally good luck, which would contribute to the victory. 

So let's talk rolls for the three games played. Dan would roll 6 snake eyes, which was low for Dan. He would roll very poorly in this second scenario. Dan would roll 13 boxcars, which is also very unusual for Dan and his two losses in our three games would reflect these bad rolls. I would roll 4 snake eyes and 12 boxcars...which is just indicative of how badly I roll in general. I managed to win despite these rolls as I would roll a large swath of 3's-7's in this game. I say it often and I'll say again...rolls matter.

As the defending Germans, Dan would command the men of Luftkommando Hedderich and Vorausabteilung A, Infanterie Division 34. This force would consist of 4 x 5-4-8s, 4 x 4-6-7's, and a 2-2-8 led by a 9-2, 8-1, and 8-0 with an MMG, 2 x LMG's an ATR, a 37L AT Gun and mines.

As the attacking French, I would command the men of the 4eme Regiment de Spahis. This force would consist of 6 s 4-5-8's and 6 x 4-5-7's led by 2 x 8-1's and a 7-0 with 2 x MMG's, 3 x LMG's and 3 x H35 Tanks.

The battle space. 

And now for  Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Germans must defend the bridge. The 9-1 with 4-6-7 and MMG will cover the 42F3 crossroads building.  While the 8-1 with a 5-4-8 LMG covers the 42J3 building.  The AT mines will be in 42K3 to protect against a tank swarm.  The Roadblock will set up in 40I1 looking at 42I1 and the AT gun will set up on the hill in 40I7 covering the road and roadblock.  The flank for the road block will be protected by mines in 42H0/40J0.  Hopefully the French tanks come down the road and can be stopped by the AT gun."

Turn 1 French - I moved cautiously and Dan's first unit on the fringe would cower, which allowed me to get around it and then eliminate it. My boys were off to a good start.

At the end of Turn 1 - I was approaching the bridge on a broad front.

Turn 2  French - I would move forward and suffer some breaks, but Dan's 9-2 and MMG were quickly surrounded by my tanks and supporting infantry. Oberleutnant Hedderich was in trouble.

I would get a critical hit on Hedderich's position, which would kill Hedderich and break the squad. I would take them prisoner. In our post-game discussion, both Dan and I felt that this was the game changing moment. After this, the French maintained the momentum for the remainder of the game.

Dan's AT Gun would reveal and send some rounds down range, but would fail to connect.

Turn 3 French - I would manage to break the 37L AT Gun crew and this allowed me to push forward towards the bridge. Dan's boys had glass jaws and had broken in the face of French fire.

I continued to take prisoners, which was helping my cause and keeping Germans from regrouping at the bridge.

With all three tanks still in the game, I was able to put serious pressure on the Germans by the bridge.

By the end of Turn 3 - I had repulsed a final end around attack by a 4-6-7 and with that Dan gave the concession. His AT Gun crew had been killed and he was down to only a couple squads with all the French tanks and infantry concentrating by the bridge. It had been a decisive victory for my French. Dan's luck was really bad in this scenario and it would be the least balanced fight of our three games. I think this a good scenario and is a fun one to play.

And now for Dan's Post-Game Comments:

"The plan did not work.  The French executed an good combined arms attack.  The kept the force together and eliminated the German positions one by one.  Long range MMG fire eliminated the AT gun crew and the tanks flanked the roadblock to cross the bridge for the win.  Well played by Grumble Jones.  The scenario is a fun early war attack with the French and fun to play with the highlight being a critical hit on the German 9-2 with a French tank.  Congrats to Grumble Jones on a great win and well executed attack."

And now for our Wednesday Game!

Ok...whew...are you wore out yet!?! We buckle up buttercup...we saved the best or last!!! That's right, our Wednesday game would be an in your face smash mouth game of ASL as Dan and I battered each other silly in ASL Scenario J20 The guns of NARO!!!This scenario is designed by Chas Smith and covers the actions after the initial Allied landings on Sicily. Near Naro, the Italians had placed a blocking force with 4 guns to hold a narrow pass. Americans would hit the Italians with a recon force and then a tank supported infantry force. German aircraft would aid the Italians, but by nightfall the pass would belong to the Allies.

I have wanted to play the Guns of Naro ever since I got this Journal 2. Matt Shostack wrote an excellent Tactical Analysis of the scenario which in this journal. I highly recommend reading it before playing the scenario.

My initial setup would be exactly as Matt suggested in his analysis. I left that up for a couple days and would make minor changes all the way up until game time. And by then, I had deviated largely from Matt's suggested setup. 

The Italians win the game by 1) inflicting 32 CVP on the Americans, 2) maintaining at least 10 FP on the road by game end or 3) by maintaining at least one crew manned, fully functional gun. Matt's set up put three of the guns on the very back hill, with one out of view. I didn't go with this strategy because I wanted to destroy the American Recon Force as they entered the very restricted entry location. I needed every gun to be available, because I roll like crap.

I really do encourage a reading of the tactical analysis. This is a great opportunity to get tips from one of our community's great players. So don't pass that up.

A quick look at the battlefield shows clearly the constricted entry point for the Americans.

As the defending Italians I would command the men of the 207th Coastal Division. This force would consist of 7 x 3-4-7's, a 1-3-7, and 6 x 2-2-7's led by a 9-1, 8-0, and 7-0 with an HMG, MMG, an ATR and 4 x 100 ART'y's.

As the attacking Americans, Dan would command the men of the 82nd  Recon Battalion, 2nd Armored Division. This force would consist of 3 x 3-4-7's led by a 7-0 with a DM Mortar, 2 x Half-Tracks, 2 x Stuarts and 3 x Jeeps. On Turn 2, Dan would get reinforcements of 6 x 6-6-7's led by a 9-2, and 8-1 with a 50 CAL, MMG and 6 x Sherman Tanks.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Americans must take out the guns and clear the road of Italian interdiction.  There is a CVP cap for the Americans.  The plan is for the American to enter with the recon tanks closing while the half tracks take up firing positions.  The next turn the recon tanks can move to cut routes and the reinforcements can move in for the kill.  Hopefully the Italians do not set up an upfront defense and shoot the thin skinned recon units to pieces."

Turn 1 American - Dan leads off with his Jeeps. Each Jeep would have a half-squad. My plan was to hit the entry hexes with the HMG and the MMG to put residual fire for everyone else coming in.

My MG's did their job and eliminated two jeeps and the 3-4-7's and 7-0 with them. Only the 3-4-7 with the DM'd Mortar would survive. But that would my only accomplishment. My 4 guns would all miss their targets and naturally I would MALF one of them. You will remember that I put all 4 upfront because I roll like crap. Well I rolled so badly that Dan even got a Stuart tank adjacent to a gun and my HMG. Oh good grief!!! Dan always does well with Stuarts!!!

In my part of Turn 1 - I would get some luck and destroy both half-tracks and immobilize a Stuart. but I would X out one of my guns with intensive fire. I was now down to 2 working guns. My sniper would also DM the 3-4-7 with the DM'd Mortar. Dan's Stuarts would hurt me though and DM my HMG position.

Knocking out the half-tracks was critical and helped boost my CVP closer to the 32. I would still need to get the Stuarts if possible, but on Turn 2 - Dan would get his 6 Shermans and 6 Squads. My goose would be cooked if I didn't knock out the Stuarts soon.

I would fix my MALF'd gun, but Dan's Stuart had taken down the one in front of I still only had 2 functioning guns left.

Turn 2 - American - Dan's reinforcements have arrived.

As Dan's tanks came on with riders as per SSR, I got a lucky hit with my MMG that broke the 50 CAL squad and pinned the 9-2. Dan would ESB immobilize one of the Sherman tanks. One of the Stuarts would rake my positions with cannister and break my ATR squad.

Dan's attack would make good progress, but on the far left, I would manage to break the squad riding on that Sherman. This was to have major consequences.

Turn 2 - Italian - Dan's 9-2 rolls a 12 on his Rally MC and wounds. I then successfully destroy the two Stuart tanks and casualty reduce a 6-6-7. My MMG squad had gone berserk and were mowed down. Dan had also wiped out my boys on the right. I had to get the CVP before I had nothing left.

I would also send two units to deal with Dan's broken 6-6-7 on the left. Dan didn't shoot them with that Sherman. Instead that Sherman destroyed my third gun, while my fourth had MALF'd again. Yep twice in only two turns. this point in the game I had 30 CVP on Dan.

And just like that I managed to eliminate Dan's DM'd 6-6-7 for 32 CVP and the win. The game was over after two turns. This was proof that the upfront defense that is focused on destroying as much of the initial American Recon Force as possible is a viable strategy for victory. But as you saw...I very nearly failed. I survived just long enough to inflict the necessary CVP. Dan was well on his way to completing destroying my Italians.

My boys had survived for the win. This was a tough scenario for both sides. Dan and I both landed solid blows on the other one. But in the end, I had inflicted too much damage on Dan's force. My thanks to Dan three really epic games this week. It was a joy to play so much quality ASL.

And now for Dan's Post Game Comments:

"The plan did not work.  The Italian upfront defense shot up the thin skinned vehicles and the Americans hit the CVP cap by turn 2.  The up front defense was a good options when playing an aggressive opponent.  Well played by Grumble Jones.  He did not even need the air support to get to the CVP cap.  This scenario shows once again that Americans are my ASL kryptonite.  Congrats to Grumble Jones on a good win!"

Thanks for sticking with me until the end of this mega AAR blog post. 

You might need a refill on your beverage...
the hot Sicilian air has probably left you a little parched. 

It's been great fun to relive this week's games. I really enjoyed all of them.

Dan and I will return next week for more smash mouth ASL!!!

As always...we will see you then!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your great AARs! I'm a new player and these help me understand the game better. While I realize how much work goes into these, I would love if you would expand on one of the actions you describe so I can understand how it happened. On turn 1 of the French scenario you stated "Dan's first unit on the fringe would cower, which allowed me to get around it and then eliminate it." I would love a quick description of this micro-action as I feel like it incorporates tactics I should understand. Again, many thanks!