Sunday, January 16, 2022

Our Saturday Game - ASL Scenario 199 Ace in the Hole

For our Saturday Game, Dan Best and I would find ourselves in 1945 Germany for a classic combined arms scenario between late war Germans and Americans. My favorite kind of game!!! Our selected scenario would ASL Scenario 199 - Ace in the Hole. And little did I know that it would be Dan who would have the ace in the hole. Tonight's game would be a great battle of maneuver as we both attempted to move our armor and infantry in the best ways possible. It would ultimately be a fun game, but also for me a bit depressing as well...I know you're thinking Dice...and you're right..but not my Dice this time...Dan's and will get to that and the feelings that these game moments create in the player on the receiving end. We've all been there, but it's worth discussing.

Ace in the Hole would first appear in Action Pack #2. ROAR has this version with 68 German wins and 55 American wins. This is counter-intuitive to what you would expect with the large number of American squads, the number of tanks and the inclusion of a Pershing. And additionally, the German ELR of 2 is a real killer. 

So it's a surprise that the Americans don't win more often. Designed by Pete Shelling, this scenario depicst the aciton of the US 3rd Armored Division at Elsdorf, Germany in February of 1945. The action is notable because a Pershing tank knocked out a Tiger I at a distance of 900 yards. 

My own experience in facing Pershing Tanks in ASL has been interesting. I have come out on top in all of the encounters. I knocked out my first Pershing with a panzerfaust shot from a lowly 4-3-6. Then against Dan, my Jagdtigers took down a couple Pershing Tanks. They are tough to kill, but panzerfausts in particular render nearly every tank a candidate to be a flaming wreck.

Dan and I would play the version of this scenario (199) from the new Yanks release. I don't know what the changes (if any) are between the two scenarios. 

ROAR has this version of the scenario with 6 German wins and 4 American wins. So it does appear to be a bit pro-German even in the new version.

A look at the battle space. 

As the attacking Americans, Dan would command the men of the 13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division and Combat Command B, 3rd Armored Division. This force would consist of 6 x 6-6-7's, and 10 x 6-6-6's led by a 9-1, 2 x 8-1's, and an 8-0 with an HMG, 2 x MMG's, 3 x BAZ 45's, 2 x 60 MTR's, a Pershing and 5 x Shermans with a 9-1 Armor leader.

As the defending Germans, I would command the men of Panzer-Division 9 and Panzergrenadier-Division 3. My force would consist of 5 x 4-6-8's, and 5 x 4-6-7's led by a 9-1, 8-1, and 8-0 with an MMG, 3 x LMG's, a Panzerschreck, Tiger I, 2 x MKIV's and a Stug.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Americans must clear the multi-level stone building of GO German MMC.  Without losing more than 44 CVP.  The plan is to attack into the village along the south half of the boards.  With the infantry leading the way while the tanks try to take out the German vehicles.  The Gyrostabilizers will be in the 76mm armed tanks.  The armored leader in the Pershing.  Hopefully we can get some kills and eliminate the German tanks without losing too many American vehicles.  Those CVP for vehicles add up fast."

Usually, I go through two or three or even four defensive setups before game time. I did that with this one as well. With grain not in season, there's lot of great open ground to cover with tanks and machine guns. But the Americans setup I did not want to present Dan with any Prep Fire shots on my armor. I've made that mistake too often in the past and suffered for it. This is why I did not set up on the hill. I would elect to defend Board 4 and then fall back to the stone building beside the hill. It had the most open ground surrounding it. 6 factor American squads are no joke, especially in Advancing Fire and of course close combat. 

Your defensive setup usually decides your good planning is essential...wish I knew how to do it!!!

It does help to be positive...

Turn 1 American  - and Dan Best would not show up...I mean...all this cautious first turn movements...who was I playing!?! I wouldn't get any good shots, except against the armor assaulting 8-1 group on the south edge. They would be pinned.

Well my Defensive Fire didn't hit the mark, but my Turn 1 Prep would make up for it. I would destroy the Pershing with a long range Panzerfaust shot and then my MKIV's would each knock out a Sherman. That would leave Dan with only three tanks. 

Knocking out the Pershing was huge and especially on Turn 1. 

Turn 2 American - Dan advanced forward to put pressure on my center and my lone 8-1 on the south edge. He also sent a Sherman into the village. My STUG would also be knocked out, which would open the door to the south.

A look at Dan's progress at the end of Turn 2. My boys in the south were dead and a squad in the center had been captured. 20% of my force was already gone.

But despite the losses, I was readjusting my forces. I sent my other 8-1 and squad to the village along with a MKIV to hold the flank. 

Turn 3 Dan would move boys into the village and then work to unhinge my defense at the center of Board 4. At this point, I should have moved my boys back and started to set up my Alamo defense. I would succeed in destroying the Sherman in the village and another Sherman moving to flank my center. I would also lose one of my MKIV's.

The tank fight had swung decisively to the Germans...but this would give me a false sense of security and embolden me to fight it out on Board 4. MISTAKE...the game is an infantry fight and my boys were scattered and I only had 2-1/2 squads in the center with Dan's overwhelming infantry finally getting into the fight. I should have moved back to give myself the advantage of covering open ground. I had violated my own pre-game planning. And it would cost me dearly...

At the end of three, Dan's penetration had been largely contained in the north, but the south was open and Dan was beginning to swing the gate on me. 

I had managed to break the US 3-4-6 with my prisoners. They would escape in MELEE and then be shot down while scrounging for weapons. Easy come...easy go...

Turn 4 would be the beginning of the end for me. Dan's mortar would go on a ridiculous rate of fire tear that would kill my 9-1 and break my MMG and LMG squads with him. And it was the beginning of an ungodly number of snake eyes. Dan's dice would proceed to rip the game out of my hands. His mortar would get two snakes, one of which KIA'd my 9-1. 

These guys won the battle for Dan.

He then rolled snakes on four morale checks that made two squads go berserk, created a Hero and made one squad fanatic. My rolls had allowed me to destroy all of Dan's tanks...but now my Tiger and MKIV were beset by BAZ 45 wielding infantry. And their infantry support was shattered. Dan's snakes would continue for the remainder of the game at a rate of occurrence that basically ensured my defeat. No defensive plan survives a blizzard of "2's". It's at this point that you feel like fate has selected you to lose the game.

ASL is a game full of psychology. Your ability to keep up a brave front when faced with losses is a key element of playing ASL. Too often, you can lose hope and concede a game that you might have won. I would cling to this fantasy and keep fighting. But as my rolls failed to do anything to Dan as he made all of his morale checks and/or went his 9-1 did with a snakes and became a Heroic 9-2...I was increasingly feeling awful. And it just sucked...I had won the tank fight with good rolls, nothing to write home about, but good, normal rolls had allowed my armor to win that part of the battle. But instead of being in a position to exploit that success...Dan's flurry of snakes was wiping me out. And I had no answer for it...

I do try not to be a total defeatist...but I also try to be a realist. I would play this game to the final turn and was proud that my defense lasted until the final turn...but I knew that I had lost the game. I was sick about it...but nothing I could do to change it.

As my defense crumbled under Dan's relentlessly good luck, my Tiger would be knocked out by a Bazooka. 

Turn 5 American - Dan's berserk squads would tie up my MKIV in the center. Dan's boys were concentrating in the center and eliminating my blocking position in the village. 

So at this point, I stopped editing the pictures as there's not a lot of story left to tell. The clock was winding down on the game and it was just a mop operation for Dan at this point. He still had to break my boys in the north building, but he certainly had the firepower to do it and his dice rolls were as good as ever.

My MKIV had attempted to start in reverse and get out of the melee...but Dan managed to immobilize it and then I would MALF my gun in intensive fire and then I would be shocked. I would go down in close combat...hard...

Yep...I could only sit back and remember the good old days of Turns 1 -3...

The final CC in the center would end with the MKIV goners and the melee in the village would end with my boys dead.

My boys in the north building would wait for the end to come.

It would come quickly as Dan's boys surrounded the north building.

And finally on Turn 8 American, Dan would get the final break on my concealed 4-6-8 to win the game. It was bit anti-climatic as the real battle had been decided at the venerable, dare I say historic wooden building on Board 4.  

This is a great scenario...(I've never met a Pete Shelling design that I didn't enjoy.) and one that I would highly recommend. Both sides have a great chance of winning the game. 

Dan's Post Game Comments:

"The plan did not work.  German gunnery was too good and the American's lost all six tanks, plus the crews and AL for 46 CVP.  We finished through and the Americans were able to destroy the two remaining German tanks and clear the buildings.  But exceeded the CVP cap on turn 3.  It was a fun scenario but the CVP cap makes it hard on an aggressive American player.  My thank to Grumble Jones for a great game of ASL and congrats on the win!"


Dan and I just realized that the Americans lost this game at the end of Turn 3 when all of the American Tanks and Armor leader were eliminated. We had forgotten the 44 CVP Cap for the Americans. Losing all the armor put the CVP Cap at 46 and a German victory. So everything that happened after Turn 4 was just a mirage...pretend like it didn't happen. Good grief...Dan and I are quite the pair from time to time with forgetting key aspects of a scenario.


That's all for this one. 

Dan and I will be back next Saturday for some Lone Canuck action. 

We will see you then!!!

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