November has crept up on us fast this year. The older I get the faster the years seem to roll past me. Dan Best and I have managed another amazing year of ASL. The two games in this AAR were 102 and 103 for the year. For the third year in a row, I have managed to hit the century mark. And we still have many game days left in 2023. It will be a banner year!
A very good year indeed!
It was my turn to pick scenarios and I would pick two from the Schwerpunkt Volume 3 Pack.
On Friday, we would play SP25 Two Pounds in Return (designed by Evan Sherry and Randy Thompson). Set in the Egyptian desert in December 1941, the scenario depicts a moving engagement as German force tries to fend off a larger British force and escape off the board edge with more DVP than the British.
It's an interesting scenario to be sure as both sides need to exit through the same area of the board. A tall order with so many AFV's. The Germans are well-equipped with an HMG and three captured 2lb. Portees with a nice 3 Rate of Fire.
I would be the defending Germans and command elements of Panzer Division 15. My force would consist of 5 x 4-6-8's, led by an 8-1 with an HMG, ATR, 3 x 2lb Portees, 2 x Kubelwagens, 2 x Trucks, Some motorcycles, a 9-1 Armor Leader and 3 x Foxholes.
As the attacking New Zealanders, Dan would command elements of the New Zealand Division. The Kiwis would set up on Board 25 and enter from offboard. Dan;s Kiwi force would consist of an 8-1 Armor Leaders with 10 x Armored Cars and 4 x Carriers.
A look at the battle space. The Kiwis have some limited options as do the Germans.
And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:
"The New Zealanders must exit more points than the Germans off the norther west board edge. There are two possible attack plans go head on and overrun the Germans and exit with survivors, this is tempting since the Germans do not have any AFVs. Or form a screen with the smaller vehicles (several are double small) and hide behind the vehicle dust."
A look at my setup (map view - looking from the north to the south. The shared exit zone is marked in northwest corner. I set up thinking that Dan would board edge creep on the north edge and south edges.
Dan would surprise me (he usually does) by massing his force in the southeast. It would give him the longest path to the exit zone. I only had one of the 2lb Portees looking this direction, but my HMG and ATR were covering this zone.
Turn 1 New Zealand - Dan rolls right into my positions. One of my 2lb Portees with the 9-1 Armor Leader destroys four of Dan's AFV's during a rate of fire tear. None of Dan's shots land on anything. At this point, it is a very lopsided contest.
By the end of Turn 2, Dan has lost too many AFV's to continue the fight. The 2lb Portees were just too powerful and multiple rate of fires were giving them too many chances to shred the Allied AFV's. Dan would give the concession.
Despite this scenario's balanced 11-11 in ROAR, our game was almost completely pro-German. Dan went with a Schwerpunkt attack right into my grill. Unfortunately, his early war AFV's were just too vulnerable, and I was rolling more rate of fire than normal and nearly hit resulted in a destroyed vehicle. On the other side Dan's shot weren't even affecting my trucks. Frustrating game for Dan and an indicator that the direct assault is probably too risky. But given my rate of fire tears and low rolls, it's likely that an end around run for the exit would have suffered equally as badly.
And now for Dan's Post Game Comments:
"Being an aggressive ASL player I went for the head on attack. The plan did not work. Good shooting by the German gunners quickly eliminated the attacking New Zealanders. Well played by Grumble Jones with a good defensive perimeter. Congrats on the Win!"
On to Game Two!!
Our second game would be SP36 Desantniki (designed by Bob Walden). This is an early 1944 scenario with a group of Russian lend-lease Shermans attempt to secure a village defended by a handful of Germans with two anti-tank guns. This is a nice, short scenario that plays quickly. Dan and I would complete 5 turns in just under two hours.
As the defending Germans, Dan would command elements of Infanterie-Division 198. His force would consist of 5 x 4-6-7's led by an 8-1 and 8-0 with an MMG, LMG, 50L AT and 75L AT Guns.
As the attacking Russians, I would command elements of the 156th Tank Regiment. My force would consist of 6 x 5-2-7's led by an 8-1 with 2 x LMG's and 6 x Sherman Tanks
There are a few SSR's with this scenario. Soft ground is in effect...so careful with those ESB rolls. There is a +1 Mist LV, which would help both sides throughout the game. But the worst of the SSR's is that the German 75L AT Gun cannot set up HIP. The 50L AT Gun is able to setup HIP. But let's be honest, the 75L is the Kingmaker in this scenario and I was able to pretty much avoid it as the Russians. Sometimes, SSR's seem scripted to create a result.
And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:
"The Germans must defend a crossroads village from a Russian attack mounted on lend-lease Sherman tanks. The plan is to have the 75mm AT gun on the west flank and the 50mm AT gun on the east flank. I will deploy one squad for possible panzerfaust action. Hopefully the AT guns can get some kills and force the Russian infantry to cross the open ground without tanks."
The SSR limits the German setup options. The Russians can approach across the entire front and start the game in motion and as riders. Again...a bit of a scripted scenario. I would have three teams of two Shermans and two 5-2-7's in support to move on the village from three sides. I knew where the Germans were except for the 50L AT Gun. It's in the house not the orchard hex. The circle was put on the wrong hex during editing...dang Editor...
This is a very small scenario and both sides have only a handful of squads to play with. Things like the Sniper and boxcars can really unravel a small scenario as you will see.
Turn 1 Russian - I successfully move into my first objectives. I would risk a single tank moving in LOS of the 75L and get away with it. I should have setup smarter with that tank. You should never make a move relying on your opponent to roll high. Dan would reveal the 50L AT Gun and its first roll would be a 12...Boxcars. All bad, gun loses concealment and is MALF'd. A very lucky break for the Russians.
I had one squad broken. Dan's 75L would focus on the house in his LOS and make that position untenable throughout the game. But things were lined up well for Turn 2.
Turn 2 Russian - with the 50L still MALF'd, I would smoke Dan's 8-1 with the MMG and then advance hard on his right flank. I too would MALF one of my Sherman's MA's. I would go crew exposed to make use of the 4 FP AA MG provided by SSR. I would park this one next to the MALF'd 50L. Risky of course...but he won't the fix that gun...right!?!
Well...the odds were against me... Dan promptly fixed the gun and shocked my next door Sherman. That could have been worse...it would also keep rate and go for a second tank...but an 11 would miss and strip the guns concealment.
"Hans...Bubi...stop celebrating!!! We'll lose our concealment!!!"
Turn 3 Russian - my smoke was messing up Dan's 8-1 MMG team and allowing me to move up to the village. I would roll out of my shock and together with my infantry break the 50L AT Gun crew. A hard luck battle for those boys.
Bottom of Turn 3 and my luck would run out for risky maneuvers. I had positioned on of my Shermans in its LOS. Say goodbye to my little Emcha!!!
Of course I had no room to complain as this would be my only loss during the game.
At the end of three turns, the momentum was firmly with the Russians.
Turn 4 Russian - I make a strong push to secure the win.
Three close combats will decide the game. The Russians are able to win all three.
At the start of Turn 5 - the Germans were done to a broken 8-1 and a broken 2-4-7 with an LMG. Dan had to have an MMC per the victory conditions. The 8-1 would Rally and then BOXCARS would KIA the broken 2-4-7. That was game. Dan's first roll of the game was Boxcars and his final roll of the game was Boxcars. That's when you feel that twinge that tells you that fate had already determined the winner of the scenario.
And now for Dan's Post Game Comments:
"The plan did not work. The 50mm AT gun broke on its first shot. The Russian tanks got the range and then eliminated the German infantry. They also placed smoke effectively. Well played by Grumble Jones for the win."
That's a wrap for November!
Dan and I will be back after Thanksgiving
in a Galaxy near you!!!
Here's wishing you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving!
(RIP Matthew Perry)