Sunday, September 12, 2021

Our Saturday Game ASL Scenario AP78 Crossfire

Our Saturday game is a bit of a misnomer tonight. I played a string of games this past week...Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Pretty amazing and nnot something I have actually done before and with three different opponents and one person face to face game. This would be my first in person game since the Sioux City Tournament in 2019. Two full years without a face to face game. While I absolutely love playing Cardboard via SKPE, I do miss attending tournaments. 

My good friend, Dave Mareske would come to Tulsa to attend a conference. He would stay at our home the evening before the event. And naturally, that meant a game of ASL!!! Dave and I would play Overrun MLR09. Dave is an excellent player and our games are usually bloody affairs with m squads doing most of the bleeding!! My 12th SS would tank 8 x MKIV's into a strongly defended village held by Canadians. Dave's Sherman Fire Fly would deal out serious damage, before a faust finally connected with it. It would also KIA a 9-1 leader and a squad in close combat. Overall, the first few turns were a misery for my Panzergrenadiers. I would finally get into the village and win some fierce hand to hand combats. I would also knock out all of Dave's tanks and still have a single MKIV at game end. A moral victory of sorts. Dave would win the scenario handily. It was a great evening of ASL

My lifetime record vs Dave is a bit dismal at 2 Wins and 7 Losses. Despite the lack of wins against Dave, we always seems to have fun games.

Hopefully, I'll see Dave again in Kansas City at next year's March Madness Tournament.

On Wednesday, Dan Best and I would sneak in an evening game of Scenario GJ099 Horodenka Ambush. Dan was gracious enough to give my latest scenario a playing. And was actually a lot of fun. Naturally, any scenario you design should be fun, but designing a good scenario is no easy task. I put out a lot of scenarios, but do not pretend that they are high caliber scenarios. So, I was really pleased that Horodenka Ambush played out so well. Dan would play the ambushing Russians and would promptly MALF his LMG on the very first and most important shot of the game. Normally, this can be a fatal flaw to any scenario design. But it did not turn the tide of battle against Dan. So it was great to see that the Russians had a great chance to win even without the LMG. Dan would inflict serious losses on my boys, but in the end, I would succeed in taking the victory locations.

Dan would elect to have all his units HIP and he would spring the ambush in the woods. MALF'ing the LMG would deprive Dan of the desired fire lane and give me a chance to exit my trucks...which I did!

The inclusion of a Commissar to lead the Russians also proved to be a good idea. The Commissar was able to quickly rally the Russians and keep them in the fight.

The Hungarian player must keep in mind that he will likely pass over two of the 3 victory conditions, but not actually control them. So be sure to send infantry back to control them. And the Russian player need to remember this as well. Springing the ambush later has value as you could possibly put the Hungarians out of position to quickly recover the two early victory locations. There may also be a fatal flaw in my the Russian player could just let the convoy exit the board and they casually claim all three victory locations at his leisure.

For our Saturday game, I would select ASL Scenario AP78 Crossfire.  Designed by Gary Fortenberry, this scenario covers the fighting at Acerno, Italy during the Salerno Campaign. Historically the Americans were victorious and pushed the German out of Acerno. 

ROAR has this scenario with 41 American and 36 German victories. Back in 2015, I played this scenario against Chris Brackney, but we were unable to complete it. So I wanted to give it another shot to see how it finally played out.

In this age of thousands of scenarios to play, it is rare to play one more than once. But I was looking forward to giving this one another go.

As the defending Germans, Dan would command the men of Battaillon I, Panzergrenadier-Regiment 9. This force would consist of 3 x 4-6-7's, 10 x 4-4-7's and 4 x 2-2-8's led by a 9-1, 8-1, 8-0 and 2 x 7-0's. with 2 x HMG's, 2 x MMG's 2 x LMG's, 3 x Half-tracks, a 20L Flak-wagon, a 75L AT Gun, 2 x 75 INF Guns and an 81 MTR. 

As the attacking Americans, I would command the men of the 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment. My force would consist of 5 x 6-6-7's, 12 x 6-6-6's, 2 x 3-4-7's, and 2 x 2-2-7's led by a 9-2, 9-1, 2x 8-1's, an 8-0 and 7-0 with a 50 CAL, 4 x MMG's, 4 x BAZ 43's, 4 x DC's , 3 x Shermans and 2 x 107 MTR's.

The Americans setup on the hills and on the east half of Board 10 with the Germans sandwiched in between.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Germans must defend the stone buildings on boards 10 and 46.  They get one MMC HIP plus four guns HIP.  The HIP MMC will be a 4-6-7 and HMG in 10V7 plus the 9-1.  Then the 81mm MTR will set up in 10Y5 looking at X4/X5 and hopefully catch some folks crossing the road.  The AT gun will set up in 46FF3.  This is upfront and my require some turret hits on hull down tanks behind the wall, but has the best field of fire.  The 8-1, 4-6-7 HMG combo will set up in 46EE5 for support.  The infantry guns will set up in 10CC8 to get a shot at flanking tanks and in 10W5 to hit infantry entering the village from the east.  Hopefully the tanks can be stopped early to avoid VBM freeze.  The Germans will generally set up on the perimeter of the villages and retreat to the center to try to keep the Americans from an early win."

I placed my mortars and 50 CAL where they could perform over watch and put fire down on the Germans as they revealed themselves.

My 50 would give me pretty good service throughout the game. 

I opened the game with smoking a German location (would turn out be dummies).

Turn 1 - American movement phase...would not go well. I moved two Shermans behind the stonewayll to confront a HIP vehicle and was quickly fire upon by the HIP 75L AT Gun. Dan would knock out both...despite moving and being hull down. Neither tank fired a shot. I hadn't done anything crazy and had now lost two tanks. On the eastern front, my 9-2 with two MMG's was patiently waiting for Opportunity Fire...but he would get it. Dan's HIP 81 MTR would show up and break the stack. In the first movement phase I already had three squads broken including my 9-2 and two Shermans destroyed. I won't lie...I almost gave the concession right then and there.

I was actually...I hate getting smacked around on the very first turn...but it was going to get worse...

One player's pain is another player's game. Dan had to be super happy with the result. His dice were hot...and the many sniper activations (4 for the US) were proof of the hot dice.

"Don't I know it!!!"

With my 10-2 down and my primary base of fire, my attack in the east was pretty much unhinged. I would manage to DM the crew of one off the 75 INF guns, but not before it knocked me around. And Dan's 9-1 with the HMG over here had yet to reveal himself. He was waiting patiently for me to walk out in front of him....and me being me...I would eventually do that very thing!!!!

"Patience Junge...the Amis will show themselves soon..."

My mortars would go to work on eliminating Dan's 81 MTR...and they would be successful. My 10-2 was back in the fight , but Dan's 9-1 with the HMG would show  up and take out a squad that had moved to secure some buildings. HIP was just killing me as it usually does in ASL.

Back in the west on Board 46, I managed to eliminate the CMG Halftrack with a bazooka shot. I then moved squads and my last Sherman to take on the 75L AT Gun. My Sherman approached from the rear. I knew that Dan would have to pivot the gun twice inside a building in order to take the shot and with infantry adjacent, I thought for sure he would shoot them out of self-preservation. Nope...Dan pivoted and fired...missed...but kept rate and on the second shot destroyed my last Sherman. So all three Shermans were gone after two movement phases...and none of them fired a shot. My strongest assault asset was completely gone. 

You never want to begrudge your opponent his/her success in critical situations. But it's really hard to take when your own dice aren't affording you the same opportunities. Dan's AT Gun had done its job and eliminated all of the American armor. I would break the crew...but they would escape my justice.

"Well you squads were all 6-6-6' seemed appropriate!!!"

After two turns...a look at my pitiful performance. Dan had smacked me around like badminton birdie!!! I didn't have a building yet....

So...let's talk about the Scenario victory conditions...The Americans would win at the end of any Player Turn by controlling a number of stone buildings in the original German setup area greater than/equal to 5 x the current game turn number or at game end by controlling all stone buildings (30). So...with zero buildings after two turns...I'd already lost this game. All Dan needed to do was retain one building at the game end and that was assured at this point. And just how does the American player take 5 building on Turn 1 or 10 by Turn 2 !???! I'm going to be honest, I just don't see how that is achievable against even a mediocre German Player. Keep in mind the Americans begin the game on this 5a Hill Hexes and on Board 10 behind Hex Row P. So...yeah...I struggle to see how this scenario doesn't always end up a fight for the Americans to take all the buildings...please send cheese to compliment my whine...

"Oh...ok..always with the Ancient Alien Theorists..."

Turn 3 - I finally make some progress into Board 46, but back on 10...I was still struggling to reorganize and rally my brokies.

My boys just wouldn't self-rally....

After 3 turns, I was finally making some progress on 46...but Board 10...I was not doing well.

Dan's boys were still largely in control of the battlefield.

Our last image of the game at the end of US Turn 4. I was finally taking some buildings and would end up with 11 by the end of Turn 4 movement phase. 

So I had finally managed to get some buildings and would definitely add to my tally in Turns 5 and was still nearly impossible for me to get 25 and then 30 on Turn 6. Dan had gotten his flu shot earlier in the day and was beginning to feel its effects. So we took a break, did the math and I gave the concession. I could not see a path to 30 buildings with my depleted force. So Dan would get a well-earned victory that I personally felt he achieved on Turn 1. 

My boys never recovered from their initial losses. 

My personal ELR also never recovered. Dan's success with his AT Gun just shattered me and I was pretty much out of the game at that point. And sometimes that happens. My thanks to Dan for a great game of ASL!!! In all seriousness, Dan and I always have a great night of ASL no matter the outcomes.

And now for Dan's Post Game Comments:

"The plan worked.  Mostly due to good shooting by the AT which got two quick kills with turret hits behind the wall and an intensive fire shot after pivoting which knocked out all three tanks.  This combined with the 81mm MTR getting hits to break the American 9-2 and two squads set the Americans back early.  Ruling out an early victory.  The Americans then slogged into the village and while the Germans were losing ground, the Americans did not have enough movement to clear all the building.  By turn 4 it was clear the village could not be cleared.  This scenario is tough on the Americans if they do not get into the village early and with needing to capture 5 times the turn number in stone buildings to get an immediate win early defensive fire is key to stopping the American attack.  My thanks to Grumble Jones for a good game of ASL!"

That's all for now! 

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

We will see you then!

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