Sunday, August 14, 2022

Our Saturday Game - ASL Scenario 245 The Time of Humiliations

After a long and busy work week, Dan Best and I were once again locked in the cardboard struggle that is ASL. Tonight's game would be my 70th of the year. This is a fantastic pace of play, but unfortunately, I have experienced a slow down in the monthly games. Considering that I played 13 games in January, my current pace of just 3 in August is a good indicator that the last part of this year will probably not imitate the first part. Work of course is a big part of that, but also personal life issues affecting my regular STL opponent and Dan's participation in many tournament events this year have limited opportunities to get in more games. Of course, 70 games would be an outstanding year of ASL just by no complaints from me.

Tonight's game would be ASL Scenario 245 The Time of Humiliations. Designed by Laurent Closier, ASL 245 takes place in 1940's French Indochina as the Japanese sweep in and take control. This is an appealing scenario set in Asia, but does not denote PTO terrain. It also has a great mix of infantry and AFV's for both sides. Dan and I would find it to be a very good scenario.

For my part, I would find it's title to be very appropriate as I would suffer the humiliation in defeat. Spoiler alert!

My record as the French has always been very good. I've only recorded one defeat as the French...I would double that total tonight...but as the Vichy French...maybe that doesn't really matter...they should lose.

As for the Japanese...a Banzai charge cannot be stopped rolling 8's through 11's. That'll get you killed.

As the attacking Japanese, Dan would command elements of the 5th Infantry Division, Army of Canton. This force would consist of 8 x 4-4-7's, 9 x 3-4-7's and 2 x 2-2-8's led by a 10-1, 9-0 and 8-0 with 2 x MMG's, 3 x LMG's, 2 x 51 MTR's and 4 x Tanks.

As the defending Vichy French, I would command elements of 11eme Compagnie, 3eme Bataillon, 9 eme Regiment d'Infanterie Coloniale. My force would consist of 15 x 4-5-7's, and 3 x 2-3-7's led by a 9-1, 8-1 and 8-0 with an MMMG, 3 x LMG's, an ATR, a 60 MTR, 4 x Motorcycles and 3 x I mean Tanks....yeah they were tanks...well sorta...

The battle space is well imagined and posed some serious LOS issues for me as a defender. The Railroad is an embankment railroad (Hillock) and so I would used that as a defensive rampart to stop the Japanese. The Number 1 and 3 Overlays are a disaster when playing Cardboard via SKYPE. No hex numbers result in massive confusion. It would impact our game near in the final turns and sap some of the enjoyment of the game. I would suffer particularly badly from less than optimal communication tonight between Dan and myself. 

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Japanese must cross the boards and exit 25 EVP (15 must be infantry) or capture and hold the village buildings.  The plan is to attack on board 38 into the village (overlay 1).  Then the Japanese can exit or hold the village.  The Japanese will keep together and use the 3-4-7 squads to attack in H-t-H CC or banzai to break up the French defenses.  The tanks will be used to cut route paths.  Hopefully the reinforcement group can be taken out by the tin can tanks."

I could not know for certain where Dan's Schwerpunkt would strike. I put the MMG, 9-1 and ATR in front of the village and the mortar and two LMG's with the 8-0 to hold the rice paddy section.  "He who defends all...defends nothing." kept playing in my head. The Railroad embankment gave me an LOS over the grain...but the orchards would block me. I had failed to consider that. Dan's Schwerpunkt on Board 38 would be able to move relatively easily towards the railroad.

I really struggled with how to defend in this scenario. Three different setups were looked at before I ended up with a static front defense on the Railroad Embankment. I had no way to stop the Japanese tanks. I only had one ATR and it would not a get shot in this game before being captured by the Japanese.

Turn 1 Japanese - Dan moved forward. His target would appear to be the village.

Turn 1 Vichy - I would do some skulking and my boys on Board 35 would creep up the railroad. Huge MISTAKE. I should have immediately sent the Board 35 force to the village. This mistake would contribute greatly to my loss.

I have no good excuse...

Turn 2 Japanese - Dan hits me hard and Banzai Charges for the first time. Incredibly, I would successfully fend off this first charge and inflict heavy losses on the Japanese. But the Japanese Armor would secure the northern shoulder of the railroad line. Despite some losses, Dan's Japanese had basically taken the railroad embankment. My MLR was being shattered.

My ATR half squad never got to shoot their ATR at a tank as they were hit by a Banzai Charge and then held in Close Combat. I would struggle throughout this game to win Close Combats. My DM's squads tell the story of a shattered position. 

Turn 2 Vichy - I would finally send my Board 35 troops to head the village. But it was too late.

Turn 3 Japanese - this turn would be the first of Dan's moves that left me confused. Dan would win the scenario immediately upon exiting 25 EVP with 15 of those being infantry. Instead of moving aggressively towards the exit, Dan instead decided to surround two broken Vichy squads. This was the first clue that Dan was playing to eliminate my units and not necessarily over concerned with gaining an immediate win.

So, you can see that the village is completely undefended, and my forces are out of position to do much to stop Dan from moving into it and then to the exit.

Turn 4 Japanese - Dan would position his tanks to meet my Turn 4 reinforcements. But again, he would not make a move to exit...which did perplex me. He had plenty of points with a clear path to the exit. He also had enough force left to attack what was left of my force.

So, now we evaluate one of the key mistakes that I would make during this game. I had planned to enter from the north and drive into the village. At this point, Dan had not exited anyone and had not really begun taking buildings. Despite my losses, I believed that I could contest the village as Dan had to control all of the buildings at game end to win.

You will see the two northern Japanese tanks circled and red lines indicating their covered arcs. My attack plan would have me entering outside of their covered arc and moving behind them into the village. Only problem...they were not facing the direction that I thought.

Dan's tanks were actually looking right at me as my reinforcements entered the battle. I had the 8-1 armor assaulting with 3 squads. Dan would hit me 8 MG factors flat and roll snakes...because of course he did. Two of my tanks would be shocked and my infantry had been smashed. Game was really over at this point.

On of my surviving half squads would battle harden to a 2-4-8 and go into CC with a tank. They would not destroy it and then themselves be killed in Close Combat by the Japanese infantry. My northern attack was huge failure other than locking down Japanese forces, which might have exited.

Turn 5 Japanese - I knew I was probably done...and Dan asked me if I was ready to concede. But I couldn't concede. Dan had not met any victory conditions at this point. He had not made any move to win immediately by exiting, which was available to him. Once again, eliminating my troops seemed to be the priority. And my reticence to concede added fuel to that fire. The Japanese would move to destroy me.

So, from the Vichy perspective the game was very much not decided. If the Japanese were not going to exit, then they would have to take the buildings. I would therefore try to extend the fight for the buildings for as long as possible. I really felt that I had an obligation to not give up at this point.

Turn 6 Japanese - I would unshock one of my tanks and successfully destroy a Japanese tank. I was also in close combat in one of the southernmost buildings. Dan had also not gained control of all the buildings. 

Turn 6 Vichy - I try to make some moves and get my forces to converge on the village. But once again, a snake eyes would unravel my attack as one of Dan's mortars tagged me hard. I would also lose another tank destroyed and more squads in close combat. I just couldn't roll less than 7 or 8 in close combat. Rolls matter.

So, as we finished Turn 6, I would concede. I was in an ill humor. Dan had occupied all the buildings after some confusion on my part as to where his units actually were...again poor communication on our part that rubbed salt in the wound of what had become a humiliating defeat for me. So, I had conceded, Dan had all the buildings and Dan proceeded to map out how he would also exit the required EVP on Turn 7. That's a great win for Dan and he has my congrats...but for me, it was a humiliating defeat. And keep in mind, my Vichy had killed no less than 7 Japanese squads, nearly half of the Japanese had perished, and they were still able to inflict a humiliating defeat on the Vichy. 

As always, my thanks to Dan for a great evening of ASL, despite losing, it was a very fun scenario that has a lot of potential for interesting game play. ROAR has it currently with 3 Japanese and 1 Vichy win. I do think this is a very challenging scenario for the Vichy player, but with enough luck, it can certainly be won by the Vichy. Killing 7 Japanese squads is no small feat. My Vichy, despite losing their MLR early on, had been able to inflict losses. I would certainly recommend the scenario and using the Vichy Balance.

And now for Dan's Post Game Comments:

"The plan worked.  One banzai broke through the French line, although the French 9-1 eliminated 3 squads.  The using smoke the Japanese were able to keep moving into the village.  The French reinforcement went head-to-head with the Japanese and the Japanese lost a squad and tank.  While the French lost two squads and two tanks.  By the end of turn 6 the Japanese had enough to exit and the French had little left to attack with.  This scenario is fun with a lot of movement but does seem hard on the French.  My thanks to Grumble Jones for a great game of ASL!"

That's all for now. 

Dan and I will take a break next week as Dan will be at HistoriKC Fest next week. 
Hopefully, he will introduce ASL to some new folks!

Dan and I will be back next week...and it could be something special. 

Dan will be here in Tulsa for a face to face...
(we might stream one of the games...
we'll see how that goes). 

But already looking forward to it!!

We will see you or you will see us then!

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